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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.