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Council to raise tax money to fund GP practice

A parish council in Sussex has decided to raise tax money to help save a local GP practice.

Rotherfield parish council has increased its precept from £100,000 last year to £120,000 – or 25p a household per week – to cover the costs of buying the surgery building and loan repayment costs.

The move comes after doctors reluctantly said they might have to close the practice and concentrate on Brook Health Centre in Crowborough some two miles away. Their two-year quest to recruit a new doctor to replace a GP whose retirement is imminent proved fruitless.

Rotherfield parish council has valued the Rotherfield surgery building and is awaiting details from NHS High Weald Lewes Haven CCG about the rent it can expect.

It is also applying for a government loan of about £500,000 to buy the building and for its upkeep.

A local charity has also stepped in with a £100,000 donation for the scheme and the practice friends group is involved in fund-raising.

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Practice manager Julie Acey said a draft rental agreement had been drawn up and the parish council and surgery are now awaiting word from the CCG about reimbursement.

She told Pulse: ‘We are taking it one step at a time.’

She added: ‘We won’t be offering the same service as we had. It will be a branch service.’

Patients will be able to attend morning appointments at the Rotherfield surgery which will be staffed by one GP, and a nurse, phlebotomist or HCA.

The administration team has already moved to the Brook surgery.

Ms Acey said: ‘I think it’s important that they are buying the building for future community use.’

The parish council hopes to let rooms to other healthcare professionals.