Greens warn of 'serious impact' at loss of another GP surgery in Brighton

Cllr Sarah Nield outside Matlock Surgery
Cllr Sarah Nield outside Matlock Surgery

The merger of two doctors' surgeries in Brighton has been criticised by Green councillors in the city.

It comes as proposals to close Matlock Surgery in Withdean as part of a ‘merger’ with Beaconsfield Medical Practice in Preston Park were revealed last week.

Brighton and Hove's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it was notified by the partners of the two surgeries of the merger plans.

The Green Party locally said Brighton and Hove has approximately one GP to every 2,500 patients, with figures released by organisation Healthwatch from 2016-2018 showing the number of GP practices in the city reducing from 44 to 36.

Cllr Sarah Nield, who represents Withdean, 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.

"We remain concerned that a useful community hub may disappear, forcing local residents to travel further afield for their needs. I’m particularly concerned about how this will affect our elderly or more vulnerable residents.

“While the CCG claim that services will not be affected, I’m also 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 in yet more savings, the needs of our residents and the impact of GP surgery closures on our community must be addressed.”

A spokesperson for NHS Brighton and Hove CCG 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 have put extensive measures in place to support GPs in the city, including financial and educational support to help them run their surgeries more effectively and efficiently to free up doctors to provide more care for patients - one surgery alone saved the equivalent of seven weeks of consultation time per year through a change in repeat prescription process.

“We are committed to supporting GP practices if their lists grow due to the changes at neighbouring practices. Any potential increase in practice list sizes is monitored through a range of national and local indicators such as the National Patient Survey, complaints and Quality Outcome Framework. We monitor appointment availability through national mandated indicators e.g. Bi-Annual Extended Access Data Collection and patients now have access to evening and weekend appointments through the Improved Access Scheme."