Another Brighton doctor’s surgery is to close just months after the BBC reported NHS data showing that Brighton and Hove already has one of the poorest levels of provision in the country.
Matlock Road Surgery – also known as Matlock Surgery – in Matlock Road, Brighton, will close next year, with the Beaconsfield Medical Practice expected to take on the patient list.
The surgery, which has about 3,000 patients, is run by general practitioner (GP) Dr Paul Allan.
The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The lease for Matlock Road Surgery comes to an end in March 2020 and will not be extended.”
One of the newly elected Green councillors for Withdean on Brighton and Hove City Council – the ward where the surgery is located – spoke of her concerns for the neighbouring pharmacy.
Councillor Sarah Nield, a member of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “I’m particularly concerned about how this will affect our elderly or more vulnerable residents.
“While the CCG claims that services will not be affected, I’m concerned that this may mean we will lose yet another GP surgery in the city when we are already dealing with a dwindling number of GP surgeries and an appalling GP-to-patient ratio.
“As the proposals are still open for review, we welcome news that the CCG will hold public engagement events and we would encourage patients to make their opinion on these changes known.
“However, Greens will continue to push the CCG for more clarity over their plans for primary care in the city.
“Instead of endless ‘integration’ plans that herald yet more savings, the needs of our residents and the impact of GP surgery closures on our community must be addressed.”
The CCG said that the plan to “merge” the practices had come from the partners in the two surgeries.
It said: “We are committed to ensuring local people have access to GP appointments and every effort is made by to support GPs in the city.
“We have been notified by the partners at Matlock Road Surgery and Beaconsfield Medical Centre of their plans to come together to form a single larger partnership offering greater stability and sustainability for local general practice services for the future.
“The surgery partners have told us they have come to the decision to merge practices to ensure their future sustainability and provision of care to their valued patients.
“The business plan they have presented proposes that they will come together in early 2020 but patients will be consulted on their views before a final decision is made by the CCG whether to agree to the proposed business plan.
“There is no need for patients registered at either surgery to do anything to get a new GP as their future needs will be automatically taken care of as part of the proposed business plan.
“The proposed business plan reflects the wishes of the GP partners and is not the result of any CCG funding cuts or reorganisation plans.
“Every effort is made by our CCG to support local general practice services which are facing the same pressures that are being reported from around England.
“We are committed to supporting GP practices if their lists grow due to the changes at neighbouring practices.”
The Greens said that an investigation by their councillors last year “revealed that Brighton and Hove has approximately one GP to every 2,500 patients”.
They said: “Figures released by Healthwatch from 2016-18 showed the number of GP practices in the city reducing from 44 to 36.
“At a recent meeting of the Local Government Association, the Green group convenor Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty also raised the issue with Health Secretary Matt Hancock, challenging him to end the primary care crisis in Brighton and Hove.”
Councillor Nield said: “Matlock Road surgery is right in the heart of a nest of streets, part of a parade of shops serving the local community.
“Until recently it had a post office but that has now closed, meaning that residents have to travel for their post office services.”
The closure of the GP surgery, she said, “of course will affect the business of the adjacent pharmacy and we remain concerned that a useful community hub may disappear, forcing local residents to travel further afield for their needs”.
She added: “I’m particularly concerned about how this will affect our elderly or more vulnerable residents.”
The first of the two hour-long patient engagement events is due to take place next Monday (17 June) at the Exeter Street Hall, in Exeter Street, Brighton, from 5.45pm to 6.45pm.
The second is due to be held the following Monday (24 June) from 10.45am to 11.45am at the Church of the Good Shepherd, in Dyke Road, Brighton.
Previous closures locally include the Highcroft Villas Medical Practice, in Chatsworth Road, Brighton. Most patients from the former GP surgery are now seen at 175 Preston Road, Brighton, home to the Beaconsfield Medical Practice as well as the Stanford Medical Centre.