Four practices run by The Practice Group in Brighton are to close as early as next month after the group was given a ‘significant reduction in funding’ following a PMS contract review.
A fifth surgery, Brighton Homeless Healthcare, which treats homeless patients, will continue to provide GP services until the end of January 2017 while NHS England seeks to attract another provider.
The closure of the four practices has been brought forward after The Practice Group said it was ‘experiencing some difficulty in retaining staff across all five surgery sites for the duration of their contract.’
GP practice closure
The first of the surgeries to close, The Practice Hangleton Manor, will treat its last patient on Friday 15 July with patients automatically transferring to another nearby GP practice, which will receive extra funding from NHS England, unless they choose to register elsewhere.
The Practice Willow House will close on Friday 16 September, with patients also automatically transferring to another practice unless they choose not to. This practice is almost 1.5 miles from Willow House, as the closest practice said it could not accept large numbers of new patient registrations.
In both cases local GP practices were contacted to ask if they wanted to set up a new practice in the affected areas, but none wanted to.
The Practice North Street, based in a branch of Boots in the centre of Brighton, will close on Friday 29 July, with a number of local practices indicating that they can take patients from the practice onto their lists.
The largest of the four closing practices, The Practice Whitehawk Road, which has more than 3,700 patients on its list, will close on Wednesday 30 November. Patients will automatically be transferred to another practice which operates from the same building unless they choose to move elsewhere.
Patients forced to move
Letters have been sent to all patients of the practices telling them where their registration will automatically be moved to, where applicable, and offering advice sessions for patients unsure of what to do.
Hangleton Manor was last year rated inadequate by the CQC, and a recent re-inspection by the regulator in May raised concerns about the clinical supervision of locum GPs at the practice. The CQC said it could not sanction the practice with its current staffing arrangements. The CQC also raised concern about the The Practice North Street’s ability to provide adequate staff, and so its closure has also been brought forward.
Brighton and Hove CCG said the closures were being handled by NHS England South.
In a letter to colleagues, NHS England South (South East) director of commissioning, Sarah Macdonald, said: ‘We are working with The Practice Group and the other local receiving GP practices to ensure a smooth transfer of patient care and to make sure any vulnerable patients who may require additional support or information can access this.
'We feel the above actions will directly support the sustainability of the receiving practices, as providing services for a larger group of patients will enable practices to better plan and deliver their core GP services.’
A spokeswoman for The Practice Group said: 'The Practice Group remains committed to our patients and staff members during this transitional time. We are working with NHS England, Brighton and Hove CCG and the local surgery providers to ensure that patient care and continuity is maintained through the secure transfer of patients to new providers.'