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Eighth practice closure in two years in single town

Over 2,000 patients will need to find a new GP from November as the eigth practice closes in Brighton in just two years.

The Ridgeway Surgery in Woodingdean said it will be closing due to a partner retirement and another partner quitting for a salaried role at a nearby practice.

NHS Brighton and Hove CCG said it was working on plans to boost resilience of local GP services, after admitting widespread closures had put ‘additional pressures’ on remaining practices.

But a local councillor said there was ‘no plan or evidence’ of additional resources being provided to practices, as over 30,000 patients have had to find new GPs after seven practice closed in the city.

A statement on the Ridgeway Surgery website warns its 2,270 patients that they should expect ‘multiple letters’ from the CCG ‘regarding the closure’ of the practice.

It says this comes as Dr Dodie Fahmy will retire and Dr Jeremy Baker will ‘continue working locally as a GP employed by Woodingdean Medical Centre’.

It adds that Ridgeway Surgery will be ‘unable to continue as a single handed practice so will be handing back their general medical services contract’.

Dr David Supple, a GP in Brighton and clinical chair of NHS Brighton and Hove CCG, said he recognised there had been a number of practice closures over the last two years, ‘which has put additional pressure on general practice services across the city’.

He said: ‘One of the key areas of our plans to improve health and social care across the city is to ensure general practice is more sustainable, more resilient and works efficiently and effectively for the years ahead.

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

Dick Page, a councillor on the Brighton and Hove Health and Wellbeing Board, told Pulse: ‘Before this closure was announced, our CCG reported that we only have 0.63 GPs per 1,000 patients in the city, compared to 0.8 in Sussex as a whole.

‘There has been a lot of talk about efficient clusters and bigger practices, but no plan or evidence of resources being found to support our primary care services under such stress.’

Meanwhile a practice in Bournemouth with 2,700 patients closed last week after its only partner, Dr Richard Hattersley, announced his retirement earlier this year.

Boscombe Manor Medical Centre is now the subject of building applications with companies looking to tear the practice down to build flats. 

Elsewhere in Dorset, a struggling practice announced plans to join two other practices in a merger that will cover 22,000 patients.

The Barn Practice, which looks after 6,200 patients, is joining the Orchard Surgery and Burton and Bransgore Medical Centres, which together look after 16,000 patients, to cope with demand.

In a statement partners from the Christchurch Medical Centre said the merger will create ‘greater capacity for the merged practice to create plans that will improve the sustainability of all the practices’.

Brighton practice closures

This latest closure follows another closure of a 2,300-patient practice in January when its GP retired.

In 2015, another 5,600-patient practice shut after two GPs retired, forcing NHS England to offer practices £25 for every patient they registered.

The CQC also closed 9,600-patient practice Goodwood Court in Hove over safety concerns.

Meanwhile, in 2016 a privately run company handed back its contract to run GP services across four practices in Brighton covering 9,700.

It comes as a recent Pulse investigation revealed the problem of practice closure worsened in the past year despite NHS England’s rescue package.