The chief executive of Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has flagged up some key concerns as another local GP surgery closes.
The Lewes Road Surgery, which has more than 2,300 patients on its list, is due to close next Tuesday (31 January).
This was also the date given for the end of the Practice Group’s contract to run the homeless surgery in Morley Street. The company withdrew from four other surgeries last year.
One of the salaried doctors, Tim Worthley, is taking over the homeless practice as part of a social enterprise called Arch.
The Lewes Road Surgery is closing because Dr Amrut Shah has retired. Four other practices have offered to register his patients.
David Liley, the Healthwatch boss, said: “Disruption to this extent will have caused inconvenience and difficulties for local people and we have heard from local people about difficulties and delays in securing GP appointments.
“One of our concerns is the general capacity of the NHS locally to absorb any more closures and disruption.
“Future sustainability plans for the NHS rely on more diagnosis and treatment being provided by GPs.
“But we have a system that struggles to meet current demand and seems ill equipped to meet increasing demand in the future.
“The most recent GP practice closure involves a relatively small number of people but Healthwatch wonders how close we are to a tipping point where the system will not be able to cope.”
Mr Liley added: “Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has worked closely with the NHS locally to ensure that those people affected can get advice on any immediate problems they have accessing GP services and are advised how to re-register with another practice.
“We recognise that NHS England and Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have acted promptly to address the problem and have made every effort to minimise disruption for patients.
“We are keen to provide evidence to the NHS about people’s individual experiences of this and other GP closures and we encourage people to contact us and share their experiences using our online patient feedback centre www.brightonpulse.org.
“Additional information for patients is available on the Healthwatch website www.healthwatchbrightonandhove.co.uk.
“Working in close co-operation with Healthwatch and local community groups, the NHS has responded well to this latest GP closure.
“But overall system resilience and the capacity to cope in the future must be a serious concern for planners and decision makers both in the NHS and for Brighton and Hove City Council’s social care services.”
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