The Eaton Socon Health Centre and the Cedar House Surgery, along with the Yaxley Group Practice are to merge with Lakeside Healthcare, which operates surgeries in Corby, Kettering, Brigstock, Rushden, Oundle and Stamford.The new organisation will the serve the healthcare needs of more than 150,000 patients in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire. Dr Michael Moor, a partner at Eaton Socon Health Centre said: We see this merger as an opportunity to expand the range of services we can offer the people of St Neots. This will ensure we have a solid base of general practice in the area for years to come. Dr Hasitha Perera, a partner at the Cedar House Surgery added: By working more closely with other GPs in St Neots and Cambridgeshire, we can introduce new services that will be much better for our patients. We see this as a very positive step forward. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke recently to the Royal College of GPs and expressed his concerns about the future of small, independent GP practices and admitted underfunding in the sector was a huge issue. The truth is because we have underinvested in general practice over decades we have made it much, much harder for you [GPs] to deliver the continuity of care, which I think is part of the magic of general practice. It is not inevitable, but there is a risk the traditional family doctor could die out if the underlying problems, such as funding and workloads, are not addressed. Lakeside Healthcare has confirmed that it is building a new model of primary care which it believes is better able to thrive in the future and buck the current trend of closures across the country. Professor Robert Harris, partner and chief executive of the Lakeside Healthcare Group said: We are hugely excited about the prospects for primary care provision across our wider region. The newly joined practices bring more talented doctors, nurses and other staff to the Lakeside Group meaning our family doctor model has a very bright future indeed. Quite simply, this is great news for patients. Lakeside Healthcare was previously appointed as one of only 14 multispeciality community provider vanguards across the country, by NHS England and the government to develop. The aim is to bring together staff in community-based roles from acute hospitals, mental health providers as well as the voluntary sector. Lakeside Healthcare has confirmed that no existing clinics or premises will be closed and with more finance available, there are plans for additional investment in premises, staff and technology and more home-visiting services for those who are housebound.