Pressure grows in city as rate of GPs per patient hits a new low

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Argus

Brighton and Hove has the lowest rate of GPs per patient than any other area across the county, The Argus.

Concerns have been raised about the city’s ability to cope with demand as national figures reveal a record number of surgeries have closed in recent years in England.

Brighton and Hove has been particularly hard hit, with the loss of seven practices over the last two years.

This has meant thousands of patients have had to relocate to other practices in the city, putting surgeries under even more pressure.

A report to the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body revealed the number of GPs in the city is equivalent to 0.63 per 1,000 of the population.

This is compared with 0.8 for the Sussex and East Surrey region.

It is also below the national average of 0.7.

The CCG is closely monitoring GP practices in Brighton and Hove to see which ones may be possibly at risk of closing in the future, such as those where the doctor is approaching retirement age.

The Clinical Commissioning Group’s chairman is David Supple.

He said: “No practices have given notice for closure and we are not aware of any that are currently considering giving notice.

“However, we are aware that general practice across Brighton and Hove is currently under significant pressure, due to rising demand and the challenges being faced with recruiting and retaining GPs.

“We are working very closely with practices to help them address the challenges and issues they face and we have a programme called Caring Together that aims to find long-term solutions to ease these pressures.

“This includes creating new ways of working that will see GP practices working more closely together, better access to out of hours GP services and to support recruitment and retention of GPs, nurses and practice staff.

“Additionally, from this month we have taken on greater responsibility for how money will be spent in general practice across the city which will enable us to give even greater support to practices.”

GP shortages can lead to extra demand on other NHS services as patients struggle to get appointments and head to hospital accident and emergency departments instead.

Daniel Yates is chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s health and wellbeing committee.

He said: “Loss of GPs due to surgery closures, retirements and private providers giving notice on their contracts has put the city’s primary care system under great pressure over recent years.

“We will be continuing to monitor GP provision and seek ways to ensure that every resident has a high quality local GP practice that offers both traditional general practice services and where possible enhanced services that helps deliver a comprehensive NHS service as close to home as possible.”

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