A TEAM of doctors who help the homeless have set up a not-for-profit company in the hope of saving a surgery.

The Practice Group announced last December that it was ending its agreement with the NHS to run the Brighton Homeless Healthcare Centre in Morley Street.

The company, which also operates four other surgeries in Brighton and Hove, gave six months' notice to NHS England, though it has extended the Morley Street date until January 2017.

Even so, the move shook the surgery, which tends to homeless and vulnerable people in the city.

Now a team of doctors has set up a new community interest company called Arch Health CIC - Accessible, Restorative, Community Health - with the aim of taking over.

Dr Tim Worthley, who started working with the homeless in 2009, is one of the doctors involved with Arch.

He told The Argus: "We’re worried about the prospect of another private company or distant consortium coming in and running a homeless surgery for profit.

"Our experience thus far is that being run by a private company can be a hindrance when it comes to developing local initiatives.

"Being run by local professionals on a not-for-profit basis creates many exciting opportunities.

"It will give us the best chance of pursuing the shared vision of having a multi-disciplinary homeless hub.

"There are still quite a few steps in the process but I would argue that Arch is the only way we will be able to keep the current team in place, and also gives us the best chance of giving Brighton the homeless healthcare service it needs."

With the added impetus of The Practice Group withdrawing, Arch has taken the initiative.

Dr Worthley added: "Although the contract resignation came as something of a surprise in its timing, we have for some time been considering the possibility that this might happen."

The Arch board comprises Dr Worthley, Hannah Bishop, current lead nurse at the surgery, Dr Chris Sargeant, who formed Brighton Homeless Healthcare in 1998, Geraldine Hoban, senior accountable officer for Horsham CCG, and Gary Bishop, a third-sector leader working in homelessness.

Dr Sargeant said: “Those who make up the Arch Board have first hand experience as clinicians and managers in providing services for homeless people and those from other marginalised groups such as gypsies and travellers, vulnerable asylum seekers and sex workers.

"We are determined to provide everyone with a standard of care at least as good as that expected by the general population, and to make the care accessible, restorative and compassionate."

The team hopes to bid for, win and run the service but admits there are no guarantees.

For more information visit archhealthcic.uk.