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Independents' Day

Hundred-year-old practice latest victim in practice closure epidemic

A GP practice in rural Northumberland is to close after more than 100 years, following a cut in funding and failure to recruit new GPs.

The Harbottle Surgery, which has branch surgeries in nearby Rothbury and Otterburn, will close on 28 August leaving about 800 patients needing to find a new doctor.

GPs at the practice said they had been forced to take the decision after suffering a ‘significant reduction’ in funding in April and after a shortage of GPs left it unable to recruit.

Dr Rina Miah, one of two GPs at the Harbottle Surgery, said recruitment efforts had failed despite the practice’s ‘very best efforts’.

She said: ‘Over the last few months we have tried really hard to recruit new GPs to work at Harbottle Surgery and its satellite clinics at Rothbury and Otterburn. Despite our very best efforts we have not been successful.

‘This, along with the practice’s new financial settlement, which will see a significant reduction in our funding from April 2016, means that sadly we are not able to continue to provide a GP service from Harbottle Surgery.’

Pulse recently revealed as part of the Stop Practice Closures campaign that thousands of patients have already been forced to find a new GP because of closures around the UK.

Dr Craig Melrose, medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: ‘NHS England has worked closely with NHS Northumberland CCG to ensure arrangements are in place for patients to access alternative GP services and we are writing to patients to provide advice on how to register with another GP practice.’

Last month, the GPC called for urgent funding support to practices at risk of closure. In response, NHS England said it was working on a programme of support, as announced in the health secretary’s ‘new deal’, but Pulse revealed that this will be limited to practices that have been put in special measures by the CQC.


Readers' comments (14)

  • The slow motion car crash continues.

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  • welcome to modern day britain;

    get used to it folks, the smaller surgeries and hospitals are beginning to crumble or have services swallowed up to major urban centres.........

    still as long as its "free at the point of delivery" most paeople will carry on regardless....

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  • What is more worrying is that NHS England have not made enough effort to keep the surgery viable. They seemed to have made the decision to let it go under. Surely the last resort is practice closure. If they had offered the surgery more money then other practices would likely have gone cap in hand too. What a sorry state and likely only the tip of an iceberg. More practice closures very likely in next few years.

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  • Sad loss, and probably the number of people suffering as a result will not tell the real tale of how remote and vulnerable they are without this care.

    Expect 'video consultation' services to be the norm from some remote commercial provider, and a greater strain on OoHs when a GP has to get in a car to go to them when their 'new practice' fails to pitch up.

    Car crash? More like suffocation.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Flying Doctor Service anyone?

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  • I feel for the staff involved but in a way this is a good thing. GPs need to stop plugging the gaps (with their own incomes and family lives) and practices should be allowed to fail due to the actions of NHS England.

    It is only then that patients will realise what is being done to the service.

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  • The closure of Curry houses gets more column inches than closure of GP practices! There is a shortage of cooks so two restaurants are closing every week! How long will it take to retrain as a chef?

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  • @ Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP | 24 August 2015 11:03am

    Here here

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  • I am proud of being a locum for many reasons.
    1) Less stress.
    2) More freedom, more choice.
    3) More money.
    4) I only do what I was trained for.
    5) I am taking a stance against the status quo and hopefully helping with many more practice closures. The system as it is needs a bullet to the head and a new start. Many will suffer but we have to look at the bigger picture.

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