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Branch surgery having to close as patients lie outside PCN boundaries

Exclusive A small branch practice in Surrey is set to close in October because its 600 patients lie outside the area of the main site’s primary care network boundary.

St Nicolas branch surgery in Guildford is currently used by 600 patients and is set to close on 24 October. The local CCG has redirected all its patients to the main branch surgery Guildford Rivers Practice.

But one of the main reasons for its closure is due to some of the patients being located in an ‘entirely separate’ network area, according to a GP at the practice.

The GP, who wished to be kept anonymous, said: ‘Our reasons for closure are not for the current shortage of staff or anything like that.

‘The biggest reason is that most of our patients would be in one primary care network which is several miles outside Guildford but some of the patients, including the 600, would be living in an entirely separate primary network areas. So the new reforms for general practice by being located in primary care networks would not be operable by our practice.’

The GP told Pulse that, after patients were consulted, it was agreed that PCNs are ‘the future’ and the branch surgery was a ‘historical anomaly’ that did not fit into the new PCN plan.

They said: ‘It was our practice which sought the closure of the branch and the CCG were challenging to us but accepted the reasons after consultation with the patients.’

Guildford and Waverley CCG said they received an application to close the surgery due to issues with the premises.

A CCG spokesperson said: ‘This is a matter between the practice and the landlord. In its application to close the branch, the surgery indicates it forms part of the Buryfields Clinic and currently occupies approximately 15% of the floor space with the remaining 85% being occupied by other NHS contractors, therefore this is not cost-effective for the practice.

‘The CCG offered support by facilitating meetings between the practice and NHS Property Services in order to explore the possibility of the GPs reducing their occupancy space. However, the practice made the decision not to progress with the application.’

They added: ‘Guildford Rivers Practice had already informed the CCG and the LMC that they did not want to participate in primary care networks.’

Elsewhere, three miles away is Burpham New Inn Surgery, which serves around 2,500 patients. The CCG has stated that due to lease issues, it is ‘likely’ that the practice will close later this year.

In a statement, Guildford and Waverley CCG said the surgery’s lease is about to expire, and it was ‘unable’ to agree to an arrangement with the landlord or locate a suitable alternative site.

The CCG added: ‘All options have been explored and it is likely that the surgery may have to close later this year.

‘The CCG and the surgery appreciate that this may cause patients some concern but we would like to reassure everyone that we will provide support and assistance in identifying access to alternative provisions of GP services if necessary.

‘It is important to note that this situation is not due to any failing in service provision by the surgery. The utmost effort has been made by the surgery and the CCG to try and find alternative premises that are suitable for use by general practice, however regrettably so far attempts to identify a re-location option have been unsuccessful.’

Practices up and down the country have been shutting in record numbers, according to a recent Pulse investigation.

But small practices have largely been threatened of closure, with a CCG in the north of England being ‘unwilling’ to keep a rural practice open.

In London, a practice is set to close after commissioners delayed the paperwork to hand over ownership after the death of its sole GP.

A councillor recently criticised Shropshire CCG for not working ‘hard enough’ to save a small practice from closing.