A HEALTH group was at risk of losing nearly a quarter of its funding if it continued to run five doctor's surgeries under its current contract.

The expected shortfall in funds was revealed after The Practice Group was asked to justify why it should continue to receive the same level of funding for services in Brighton and Hove. This was part of a review of how additional services at doctor's surgeries were funded.

Annually, the company is paid an extra £148,981 for services at Whitehawk Medical Centre, Willow House Surgery in Bevendean, Hangleton Manor Surgery, one based in Boots in North Street. It is also given £307,627 more to finance additional care at the Brighton Homeless Healthcare Surgery as part of a total £1.16 million contract.

The group faced losing this money and has pulled out of its contract, giving six months' notice on all five sites, although The Argus understands the funding for the homeless surgery would have remained.

Last week the company - which could leave the city by the end of June - said it would be "impossible" to run the surgeries with an "impending and significant reduction" in funding among other concerns including staffing problems.

Both parties would have needed to agree the change before it went ahead. NHS England said the review would make funding fairer for all and the company was already receiving more money than other surgeries. The company argued its practices were smaller than others.

The announcement left the future uncertain for 11,400 patients and at least 30 staff, including seven doctors. But NHS England bosses insisted no immediate changes would take place and, although a number of options were being considered, no final decisions had yet been made.

Dr Xavier Nalletamby, chairman at NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and partner at St Peter's Medical Centre in Oxford Street, Brighton, warned there could be changes but patients would still receive a good service and everyone would have access to a doctor.

He added: "We will be doing everything we can in the short term to help prevent practices from being overwhelmed."

An NHS England spokesman said: "Our priority is to ensure all affected patients have ongoing access to GP services. We will update patients about this as soon as we can."

Patients are asked for their thoughts on what should happen next. Call 01293 729298, email england.primarycare.southeast@nhs.net or write to Primary Care Team, NHS England, 18 - 20 Massetts Road, York House, Horley, RH67DE by February 19 to respond to the changes.


THE news comes after The Practice Hangleton Manor was put into special measures last month when a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report branded the surgery inadequate.

It also follows the closure of Goodwood Court in Hove closed within a week of a CQC inspection, leaving 10,000 patients temporarily without a doctor in June last year.

Some 5,000 patients were forced to re-register with other doctors after the Eaton Place Surgery in Brighton closed after the partners retired.

Last week The Argus revealed the long-awaited arrival of department store may have contributed to the changes.

This newspaper learned The Practice Group would have needed to relocate two of its surgeries because of forthcoming 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.