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Ninth GP surgery set to close in single town

A ninth GP surgery is to close in Brighton and Hove in less than four years as a result of a partner retirement.

The patient list from Hove Park Villas Surgery will be taken over by another Hove practice, the Trinity Medical Centre, which was created from a merger last year.

A remaining GP partner and a salaried GP from Hove Park Villas Surgery will join Trinity Medical Centre at the end of September.

NHS Brighton and Hove CCG explained that the GPs from Hove Park Villas Surgery had reached out to the nearby practice due to ongoing issues with replacing retiring GPs in Brighton and elsewhere.

The CCG said patients did not have to worry about re-registering with a new GP, as they would automatically move to the new practice.

But the closure of the Hove Park Villas Surgery is another indication of the continuing recruitment challenge and the growing trend for consolidation.

More than 33,000 patients have been affected by the closures and changes which have added to the pressure on the remaining 35 practices in Brighton and Hove. 

Average QOF performance has dipped and the average list size has risen from about 6,900 to 8,700 over the past few years.

Earlier closures in Brighton and Hove resulted from a mix of retirements, the surrender of a PMS contract and the CQC withdrawing a practice’s registration.

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They were:

  • Eaton Place in Kemp Town, Brighton, which closed in February 2015 when a partner retired.
  • Goodwood Court, in Hove, which closed in June 2015 when the CQC intervened. Its Eaton Gardens branch surgery, also in Hove, also closed.
  • The Practice Hangleton Manor, run by the Practice Group, in Hove, which closed in July 2016 when the company surrendered its PMS contract.
  • The Practice North Street, run by the Practice Group, at Boots, in North Street, Brighton, which also closed in July 2016 when the company terminated its contract.
  • The Practice Willow House, run by the Practice Group, in Heath Hill Avenue, Lower Bevendean, which closed in September 2016.
  • The Practice Whitehawk Road, run by the Practice Group, at the Wellsbourne Health Centre, in Whitehawk Road, Brighton, which closed in November 2016.
  • Lewes Road, in Brighton, which closed in January last year when a single-handed partner retired.
  • The Practice Group also pulled out of running a surgery in Morley Street, Brighton, catering for homeless people. The contract was retendered, with community interest company,Arch Health CIC, run by the existing lead GP, winning the bid.
  • The Ridgeway Surgery, in Woodingdean, Brighton, which closed last autumn when a partner retired.

The news comes as a Pulse analysis last year revealed that general practice was on the brink of collapse in several towns, including Brighton.

And, last week, the BMA renewed its calls for increased funding as practices in Plymouth are ‘on the edge of viability’.

NHS Brighton and Hove CCG has been looking at ways to strengthen general practice in the south coast city and is currently formulating a strategy for primary care.

An NHS Brighton and Hove CCG spokesperson told Pulse that ‘every effort was made by the CCG to support the Hove Park Villas Surgery to continue to provide services’ but that ‘general practice services across the city are facing the same pressures that are being reported from around England’.

But they said that following the merger, patients would ‘get enhanced GP services, with extended opening times and broader services from more suitable premises with better accessibility and public transport links’.

The CCG further said it is putting ‘measures in place’ to ‘support’ GP practices locally, including educational programmes to ‘help them run their surgeries more effectively and efficiently to free up doctors to provide more care for patients’.

‘A key area of our plans to improve health and social care across the city is to make sure general practice is more sustainable, more resilient and works efficiently and effectively for many years ahead.

‘This will include integrating some services, with other clinical specialists like pharmacists better supporting GPs, and helping GPs work more collaboratively together,’ the spokesperson added.