THE LONG-awaited arrival of John Lewis to Brighton city centre may have the unintended consequence of leaving 11,500 patients looking for a new GP.

The Argus has learned that The Practice Group’s decision to terminate its contract for five GP surgeries in Brighton and Hove is based partly because of a need to relocate two of its surgeries under upcoming redevelopment schemes.

The company, which is set to leave the city at the end of June, currently has a practice based in Boots in North Street – a site which John Lewis bought last year and are set to submit a planning application for in a matter of weeks.

Practice Group bosses added that the move had also been because of rising demand for services, difficulty in recruiting and retaining GPs and a reduction in their funding.

NHS England have moved to reassure residents that the announcement will not affect the care they can receive immediately and that work is underway to find an alternative provider for the surgeries.

The health body has received notice from The Practice Group that it seeks to end its contract which includes The Practice Whitehawk Road, The Practice Hangleton Manor, The Practice North Street, The Practice Willow House in Bevendean and Brighton Homeless Healthcare in Morley Street.

The Practice Hangleton Manor has recently been placed into special measures after a Care Quality Commission report published last month branded the surgery inadequate.

A Practice Group spokeswoman said the decision to end the company’s “long standing connection with Brighton” had not been taken lightly but it had now become “impossible” to run the surgeries with an impending and significant reduction in their funding.

She added: “There have been increasing pressures on general practice in Brighton; rising demand for services, difficulty recruiting and retaining GPs and rising costs with no matching increase in resource.

“These pressures fall harder on smaller practices and all of our practices in Brighton are smaller than the national average, four of them significantly so.

“Two of our surgery sites also face relocation because of landlords’ re-development schemes which has added additional pressure to the contract.

A NHS England South spokeswoman said: “Our priority is to ensure all affected patients have ongoing access to local GP services.

“We have written to patients to reassure them that we are working to secure alternative arrangements for their care.

“All patient feedback will be taken into account in reaching a final decision about how to guarantee their future care and we will update patients about this as soon as we can.”