A doctors’ practice is planning a £400,000 extension so that more patients can be seen more quickly.
The proposed changes will enable Hove Medical Centre to have seven consulting rooms instead of the current four and there will be three rooms for nurses.
The upgrade involves creating a “first floor” from the roof space to create an office and admin and filing area at the surgery which is nestled between West Way and Hangleton Road.
But the surgery will stay the same height, practice manager Vanessa Elliott said, and should remain unobtrusive, with the roof being built out – in part – to the current edges of the building.
The entrance will also be moved a few yards east and will be level to make it easy for people to get in and out.
And the work will be phased to minimise disruption for patients, with the aim of having everything completed by this time next year at the latest.
After 30 years with the practice, including 26 years in the current building, she said: “It’s going to be better for us and better for our patients because there will be more room.
“We’ll have seven consulting rooms instead of four and more admin space. We’re a training practice but we only have enough space to take one (trainee) at the moment.”
The practice has a list size of almost 9,000 patients. The extension should enable the list to grow to about 12,000.
The proposed extension comes as hundreds of new homes have been pencilled in for nearby Toads Hole Valley. Demand is also growing among those already living in the Hangleton area of Hove.
About 250 patients have registered with Hove Medical Centre since the Practice Group gave notice of its intention to close its Hangleton Manor surgery in nearby Northease Drive. More could follow.
The Hangleton Manor practice had almost 2,000 patients at the end of last year when it was placed in special measures by the official health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
While many patients would like the Hangleton Manor surgery to remain open, its modest size and lack of a dedicated full-time GP (general practitioner) are hampering those hopes.
There have been suggestions that the Hangleton Manor practice links up with the small nearby Burwash Road Surgery, in West Blatchington.
But the Benfield Valley Healthcare Hub, at the Portslade County Clinic, next to Portslade Library, in Old Shoreham Road, has struggled to staff its Burwash Road branch surgery.
Burwash Road was closed today (Wednesday 13 April) and is due to remain closed tomorrow (Thursday 14 April) because the doctor who was scheduled to be on duty there was off ill.
A merger could make the two small surgeries more financially viable although it would almost certainly mean the closure of one of the buildings.
However, each practice has a proportion of older and less mobile patients who value having a neighbourhood GP surgery.
The possibility of housing a GP surgery at Hove Polyclinic, off Nevill Avenue, and on a bus route, has also been raised.
Patient representatives from Hangleton Manor – and other Practice Group surgeries earmarked for closure in Brighton and Hove – met health chiefs on Monday (11 April).
Among them were patients from the Willow House, in Bevendean, who brought along a banner prepared by several patients to explain what the loss of the surgery would mean to them.
The owner of the Willow House wants the building turned into flats despite a covenant requiring it to be used as a surgery.
Patients have pointed out that Brighton and Hove City Council owns a suitable and vacant site near the surgery and by the local pharmacy.
There are hopes that the Ardingly Court branch surgery in Whitehawk will take on the patient list for the Practice Group’s Whitehawk Road surgery which is already in the same building.
Tim Worthley, at the Brighton Homeless Practice, in Morley Street, is widely expected to lead a bid to take on his Practice Group list. Dr Worthley has set up a community interest company (CIC).
And the future of the Practice Group’s North Street surgery, in Boots, was at risk anyway, with John Lewis having bought the building.
The patient list there looks likely to be dispersed, with Care UK believed to be a willing provider at its Brighton Station Health Centre, at the top of Queen’s Road.
It has been noted that Care UK has been leafletting local homes to let potential patients know that they can register with the surgery.
NHS England and Care UK are believed to be keen to extend the GP contract for the service. There have been questions about the lease and whether the surgery might have to move.
Some of the uncertainty around the five Practice Group surgeries should be ended at an NHS England panel meeting in Brighton on Monday 25 April.
NHS England’s director of commissioning operations for the south east, Felicity Cox, is due to decide whether to try to commission new providers or disperse the lists at the panel meeting.
And less than a month later, Hove Medical Centre should know whether it can make better use of its building. By then, it may be coming under pressure to register hundreds more patients.
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