A doctor was attacked by a patient and has refused to return to a surgery deemed unsafe, it was revealed today.
And a child with asthma had to be sent to hospital because the surgery had no nurse on duty.
The problems were highlighted as health chiefs backed a decision to close a branch surgery because the family doctors running it said that it was the safest option for staff and patients.
As a result the Meadow Parade branch surgery, in Rottingdean, will close at the end of the month, it was confirmed on Tuesday (August 14).
Related stories: Brighton GP surgery looks set to close
Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Primary Care Commissioning Committee voted unanimously to support the closure after receiving a 90-page report and hearing patients’ concerns.
Doctors at the Saltdean and Rottingdean Medical Practice, in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, asked to close the Meadow Parade site at the end of June.
They said that they could offer a safer and better service if they were based just at the Saltdean surgery.
The surgery took on 600 extra patients when the Ridgway Practice, in Woodingdean, closed last year.
And it was also affected by the closure of the Central Surgery and Foxhill Surgery in Peacehaven.
The CCG’s Interim associate director of primary care Murray King said that an unnamed GP refused to work at the Rottingdean surgery again after he was attacked by a patient.
Mr King told the committee how the practice had found it hard to recruit locums because they did not want to work on their own in Rottingdean.
He said that a child was taken to hospital after having a severe asthma attack, adding: “There was no one else on site. The patient was taken to hospital by ambulance.
“If there had been more members of the team there, it would not have happened.
“Working in isolation is not good for patient safety.”
Mike Holdgate, a lay member of the Primary Care Commissioning Committee, said that there were a great many benefits to closing the practice even though it may not seem so on the surface.
He said: “This has been very challenging, creating a fractious and strained relationship between the CCG, the GPs and patients.
“It is a difficult process for people to go through and we have had the resignation of Dr (Andrew) Woollons, which is a great loss to that community – and the city – to lose a GP of that calibre.”
Patients will not be asked to move to another practice.
Action planned to help patients includes working with Brighton and Hove Buses, researching Dial-a-Ride schemes and working with Woodingdean Medical Centre to see if it will extend its boundary.
In an official statement, Brighton and Hove CCG said: “Every effort was made by the CCG to support the partners at Saltdean and Rottingdean Surgery to continue to provide services in Rottingdean.
“General practice services across the city are facing the same pressures that are being reported from around England.
“As a statutory body, we work within the current policy and framework set out by NHS England and will continue to do so to ensure patients receive ongoing GP services.”
Conservative councillor Joe Miller, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I’m very disappointed for residents.
“I think the CCG has made the wrong decision for patients who they are meant to represent and serve.”
The £16,475 per year in rent would be reinvested in the primary care budget, the CCG said.
One of the issues facing GP surgeries across the city is a shortage of GPs, practice nurses and advanced nurse practitioners.
During a public question time before the closure was formally discussed, CCG chairman David Supple spoke about the difficulties in recruiting GPs in Brighton and Hove.
Dr Supple said: “We have the lowest amount of doctors among the clinical commissioning groups but have a higher number of nurses.
“We need to see if the high levels of nurses is deliberate.
“We have a medical school and football team here but it is difficult to recruit.
“We need to get closer to the medical school and get them out in primary care.
“However, there is pressure on GPs as we have not got the time for medical students to come out to us.”
Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.