A new doctors’ surgery has been approved for 12,000 patients in Brighton, with the council and NHS joining forces to spend £1.6 million developing and fitting out the premises.
The building, owned by Brighton and Hove City Council, will be let to Ardingly Court Surgery, which is currently based in Ardingly Street, Brighton.
The practice will move about 500 yards to the new premises next to the Royal Pavilion in Old Steine and Palace Place.
The funding was approved by the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee at Hove Town Hall this evening (Thursday 13 July).
Councillors agreed to borrow £850,000 to add to the £813,000 from NHS England’s Estates and Technology Transformation Fund towards the cost of turning the old council-owned building into a modern GP surgery.
Ardingly Court Surgery, run by Veronica Sutcliffe, has been granted a 20-year lease for the premises at a market rent. On its old premises the lease has just five years to run.
The surgery’s existing premises have been offered for sale, through Flude’s, with a guide price of £600,000 and a potential rent of £38,000 a year. It comes with four parking spaces.
According to Flude’s: “The premises were extensively refurbished and specifically fitted out as a doctors’ surgery in 1997.”
The deal comes as concerns grow about the falling number of family doctors in Brighton and Hove.
A report to councillors said that seven GP surgeries had closed in the past few years. They were
- Eaton Place, run by Malcolm Stalker and Robert Mockett, in Eaton Place, Kemp Town, which closed in February 2015
- Goodwood Court, run by Andy Watts and Abubakr Osman, in Cromwell Road, Hove, which closed in June 2015 and which had a branch surgery in Eaton Gardens, Hove
- The Practice Hangleton Manor, run by the Practice Group, in Northease Drive, Hove, which closed in July last year
- The Practice North Street, run by the Practice Group, at Boots, in North Street, Brighton, which also closed in July last year
- The Practice Willow House, run by the Practice Group, in Heath Hill Avenue, Lower Bevendean, which closed last September
- The Practice Whitehawk Road, run by the Practice Group, at the Wellsbourne Health Centre, in Whitehawk Road, Brighton, which closed last November
- Lewes Road, run by Amrut Shah, in Lewes Road, Brighton, which closed in January
The Practice Group also pulled out of running a surgery in Morley Street catering for homeless people. The contract was retendered, with a community interest company, Arch Health, run by the existing lead GP, Tim Worthley, winning the bid.
Only a few years before, Martin Knott’s surgery in St James’s Avenue, Kemp Town, also closed.
And 2,500 patients in Woodingdean recently learnt that the Ridgeway Surgery would close in September when both its GPs, husband and wife team Jeremy Baker and Dodie Fahmy, are due to retire.
At the same time, practices have moved into new premises, such as the nearby Woodingdean Medical Centre, in Warren Road, in 2014.
In April the Trinity Medical Centre opened in Goldstone Villas, Hove, housing the old Central Hove Surgery, in Ventnor Villas, and the nearby Sackville Medical Centre, in Sackville Road.
And in August 2015 the Wish Park Surgery moved into a new building in Portland Road, Hove, on the site of the old Gala Bingo Hall. It was briefly the Ladbrokes Bingo Hall, having been the ABC cinema before that and previously the Granada.
Premises for a doctors’ surgery are being advertised as part of the building work at Brighton Marina.
And there are hopes that the Preston Barracks site in Brighton will also have a GP surgery.
A report to councillors said: “This proposal increases general practice capacity to meet current demand and increasing population.
“Local surgeries have closed patient lists (and) further surgeries are at risk of closure.”