GPS at the Marlborough Medical Practice and the Pewsey Surgery began working together this week as the two merged to form the new Kennet and Avon Medical Partnership.

On Monday, both surgeries stopped running as two separate centres, and 18,000 patients came together under one partnership.

Appointments for both surgeries now appear on the same computer screen in both towns and patient records have been linked up. However, a planned shared phone number is not coming into effect until at least mid-April.

Doctors and nurses will be switching between George Lane in Marlborough and Pewsey High Street, with one triage team, sorting emergency patients into categories of priority for treatment, which the doctors hope will help them care for more patients. Receptionist staff are still working at both surgeries.

Pewsey Vale School's art students are creating a partnership logo, in a competition which will be judged later this week.

The merger, announced in December, tackles the issue of a countywide shortage of GPs by working more officially and sharing workloads.

The shortage follows a host of resignations from several practices in Wiltshire and difficulty in recruiting.