Four doctors surgeries in Brighton and Hove will close by the end of the year, an NHS panel meeting agreed this afternoon (Monday 25 April).
A fifth – Brighton Homeless Healthcare, in Morley Street, Brighton – will be saved, with a new contract due to be awarded within nine months.
The five surgeries are currently run by the Practice Group under one contract. The company said that it would end the contract – and stop running the surgeries – after the government told NHS chiefs to carry out a review.
The review would have cut the £1.2 million funding for the contract by about £200,000 a year. The company, which is obliged by law to try to make a profit, no longer regarded the surgeries as viable.
The Practice Group’s view appears to be shared by local GPs (general practitioners). Only one of the other 39 surgeries in Brighton and Hove indicated any significant interest in running one of the four mainstream surgeries that are closing.
But one of the doctors who works at Brighton Homeless Healthcare has expressed an interest in taking on the patient list at the specialist Morley Street surgery.
Dr Tim Worthley has set up a community interest company (CIC) called Arch Health with four others with a view to bidding for the contract to look after the 1,350 patients there.
The patient lists are to be dispersed at the other four surgeries, with patients from two of the four practices setting out a number of concerns.
A march and demo took place before the NHS panel met at the Brighthelm Centre, in North Road, Brighton, this afternoon.
The four surgeries to close are
- The Practice Whitehawk Road, Wellsbourne Health Centre, Brighton
- The Practice Hangleton Manor, Northease Drive, Hove
- The Practice North Street, at Boots, North Street, Brighton
- The Practice Willow House, Heath Hill Avenue, Lower Bevendean
The Whitehawk surgery has almost 4,000 patients while the other three each had about 2,000 each.
Many of the patients at the Whitehawk Road surgery registered there after Eaton Place Surgery, in Kemp Town, closed just over a year ago.
Most of the patients are expected to re-register with the Ardingly Court branch surgery which is in the same building as their current doctors. Ardingly Court was the only surgery to indicate an interest in taking over.
In this case, dispersing the list – asking patients to re-register – saves NHS England from going through the costly and time-consuming process of advertising and awarding a new contract but achieves the same goal.
The panel sounded a note of caution though in a report which said: “There is still an agreement to be reached between NHS England and Ardingly Court Surgery regarding the support available from NHS England to enable them to register patients at the Wellsbourne Surgery site, including financial support.”
The Practice Group is due to pull out at the end of November. It will hand over the homeless practice by the end of January next year and the other three surgeries by the end of September.
The patient list for the North Street practice is likely to be dispersed among nearby surgeries
- Albion Street
- Brighton Health and Wellbeing Practice
- Pavilion and Seven Dials (jointly)
- Ship Street
The proposed dispersal of the list at the Hangleton Manor surgery and the Willow House practice in Bevendean provoked the most concern.
Some patients from Hangleton Manor have re-registered with Hove Medical Centre in nearby West Way. The rest are expected to join the list at the Benfield Valley Healthcare Hub, which has premises in Burwash Road, Hove, and Portslade County Clinic, in Old Shoreham Road.
Patient representatives have expressed reservations and NHS England said in a report last month: “Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will review current and future provision of community services in the Hangleton area.
“(The) CCG will consider a medium-term strategy and models for the delivery of community and primary care services to this population, including opportunities within the estates strategy and their STP (sustainability and transformation plan).”
The same report also said: “Hove Medical Centre, the next nearest surgery, has expressed concerns about their capacity to register patients from Hangleton Manor.”
Hove Medical Centre is planning to extend its premises although the building work is unlikely to be completed by the time the Hangleton Manor Surgery closes.
The report added: “Other practices in the area which have indicated that they have capacity to accept new registrations are Links Road Surgery, Mile Oak Medical Centre, Portslade Health Centre and Wish Park Surgery, which has recently moved into new larger surgery premises.”
At Links Road Dr Alex Khot is due to retire in September.
Future options in Hangleton include looking at the scope to use the Polyclinic, off Nevill Avenue, and whether to include a surgery when hundreds of homes are built in Toads Hole Valley.In Bevendean the nearest surgery is The Avenue, a mile from Willow House. Capacity to take more patients there is limited.
The Willow House patient list will be dispersed. The Allied Medical Practice is likely to register many of them at the Church Surgery, two miles away, in Lewes Road and School House Surgery in Hertford Road. School House is two and a half miles away.
A report to the panel today said: “As part of the management of exiting their contract, the Practice Group has identified patient groups that may be considered ‘vulnerable’ and therefore may require additional support to re-register.”
The vulnerable groups include
- All children under 5
- Children on a child protection plan or child in need plan
- Children who are looked after (children in care)
- All adults over the age of 80
- Adults coded as “vulnerable adult”
- Pregnant women in their last trimester or of concern
- Nursing and care home residents
- Housebound patients
- Adults on an adult protection plan
- Adults with shared care arrangements
- Those on registers for people with learning disabilities, dementia, mental health probems, heart failure and homelessness
- Patient prescribed high-risk medications
The decisions about each surgery are expected to be confirmed by the NHS England director commissioning operations south (south east), Felicity Cox, and shared publicly within seven days. The process is guided by a protocol that says transparency is encouraged.
NHS England South said: “Following further discussions with local community representatives we will be taking into account all factors in reaching a final decision that will ensure ongoing care for patients currently registered with The Practice Willow House, The Practice Hangleton Manor, The Practice Whitehawk and The Practice North Street.
“We will update patients as soon as a final decision is made, which we expect by mid-May.”