A petition to save a doctors’ surgery which is a ‘lifeline’ for the local community was handed to NHS bosses today (March 27).
More than 1,100 Rottingdean residents signed the petition to save Meadow View Parade doctors’ surgery from closure, and campaigners protested outside Jubilee Library where health bosses were meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
But Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group told campaigners that although the surgery had reduced its hours, it wasn’t yet earmarked for closure.
It said a review of the surgery hours would take place this spring.
Residents fear that if the surgery does close, they would have to go to the surgery’s sister site in Saltdean, which they said can take an hour and a half on the bus.
Brenda Matthews said: “I live in Rottingdean and I am in my eighties. I have a number of health problems and no car. I have to walk to a bus stop, wait for a bus to come back again, I have got problems walking.
“One of the reasons we chose to live where we live is because of the facilities that we need are within walking distance. One of the reasons we moved to Rottingdean is that we had a surgery and a bank. Now the bank’s gone, and next the surgery. What’s the point?”
Gill Street from Ovingdean said it takes her 10 minutes to walk to the surgery in Rottingdean, but it would be much more difficult to get to and from Saltdean.
She said: “My bus comes once an hour, then I have to get off at the seafront to wait for the number 27 bus. Otherwise it’s walking across the Downs! Then it is the return journey. To return I have to go to the Marina.
“To get there for an appointment it would have to be a taxi.”
Andy Wilson, who handed in the petition, said: “We have a lot of elderly patients in that area who will be affected by this.”
Since October the surgery has been opening on mornings only, and Mr Williams said: “The changes in hours happened at very short notice and without community-wide consultation and it is feared that the closure could also be sudden. There is a lot of dismay and anger locally and it is hoped that the CCG take our concerns into account when making their decision.”
Sunny Choudhury, a member of the Labour Party’s NHS Forum, said the surgery was a ‘lifeline’ for residents.
The fears over the potential closure comes as seven GP surgeries in the city have closed their doors in recent years, with a Healthwatch report published last month finding that surgeries in Brighton and Hove are oversubscribed.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “I have met with the doctors of the Rottingdean and Saltdean Medical Practice, and been in communication with the local CCG, and it is my hope that the current arrangement can be extended. “There is a genuine GP shortage problem facing us on a national level, but it is my hope that the CCG will confirm their intentions to maintain a GP presence in both Rottingdean and Saltdean going forward.”
A spokesperson for Brighton and Hove CCG said: “The CCG gave its agreement to a reduction in hours at the Rottingdean surgery in November 2017. We worked with the surgery to ensure this is done in the best possible way to ensure patients could continue to have access to local GP services.
“This decision formed part of the overall support package for the practice, which enabled it to receive large numbers of new patients in a short period of time, following the closure of the Ridgeway Practice on the 31st October 2017.
“Last year, the GPs at the now closed Ridgeway Practice gave the CCG six months’ notice that they were retiring from General Practice. They also indicated that they would not be making the premises available to the NHS after their retirement. As part of this process, patients received information on local practices and what they needed to do to register there.
“In the light of the staffing situation at the Saltdean/Rottingdean practice and given that they are taking on approximately 600 new patients in a matter of weeks, the doctors at the practice asked the CCG for its agreement to reduce the number of hours that their Rottingdean branch was open. There was no request to close the service and therefore this was never a discussion item.
“The doctors at Saltdean and Rottingdean Surgery feel they are able to offer a far superior service at their main surgery in Saltdean. They believe this increased workload can only be managed safely if there is more than one clinician (doctor or nurse) available at any one time and that it provides resilience and continuity if all their doctors are in one building at any one time. The main Saltdean site is purpose built, with full disabled access, modern facilities and several other co-located services. The CCG feels this offers a higher quality service than is possible at a small branch such as Meadow Parade.
“The CCG is due to carry out a review of the current opening hours this spring. The petition and its comments will be given consideration as part of that review, as will those of patients and staff.”