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GP practice relocated by NHS England forced to close

A GP practice in Essex will close after it was told to relocate to a hospital one mile away, amid claims the new placement may have caused patients to leave the practice.

NHS Redbridge CCG said the Spearpoint Surgery, co-located in the King George Hospital in Goodmayes since June 2013, was no longer financially viable and will close in March next year.

NHS England decided to move the practice from into the hospital premises in June 2013 because renovating its old surgery in Aldborough Hatch to CQC standards would be too costly.

However the relocation prompted 16% of the patients to re-register elsewhere, and a local councillor as well as a GP at the practice both raised parking problems as a possible reason behind the exodus.

Dr Radha Prabhakar, a GP at Spearpoint Surgery, said she was ‘shocked’ by the decision to close the practice, of which she had been unaware until being contacted by Pulse.

She said: ‘No one has told me anything about it yet. We have not had confirmation.’

Asked about why patients left, she said: ‘It’s a bit far, isn’t it? It’s more than a mile or so from the original practice. It could be so many reasons. It could be the parking, also it’s a bit away from the area.’

Local councillor Wes Streething MP told the Ilford Recorder it had warned NHS England about the lack of parking and barrier of car-parking charges at the hospital.

He told Pulse: ‘Councillors and residents in Aldborough Hatch warned the NHS that the relocation of the well-used surgery in Aldborough Hatch to King George Hospital wouldn’t meet the needs of our community and we have been proven right.’

He also said he did not think neighbouring practices had the capacity to take on the patients still registered at the practice.

He said: ‘I am concerned that redistributing patients to surrounding surgeries will add further pressure on GP practices that are already struggling to cope with demand.

‘I believe there is a real need for a new GP practice in Aldborough Hatch and will be working with local residents and the council to see what we can do to persuade the NHS to make it happen.’

NHS England said practices within a two-mile range of the practice had ‘confirmed they have capacity and are happy to accept these additional patients’.

A spokesperson for NHS Redbridge CCG said: ‘The small number of registered patients now at Spearpoint Surgery has meant that, despite best efforts, NHS England and the CCGs have been unable to find anyone to take it over, so the practice will close next March.

‘We are writing to all patients affected to offer our support in finding another GP practice nearby to look after them and to make sure their care continues.’