FOUR GP practices in Brighton and Hove look set to close by the end of this year following a recommendation from an NHS panel.

The move would mean thousands of patients, many elderly, will have to find a new doctor over the coming months.

A fifth practice, which cares for the homeless, will remain open with a new team taking over by January.

The five sites are run by The Practice Group, which announced at the start of this year it was withdrawing its contract.

It said the move was because of a potential reduction in funding as well as staffing problems.

NHS England has been working with the city’s clinical commissioning groups (CCG) and council to come up with a solution about how to provide health services for the 11,500 patients affected.

A special panel recently looked at the various options available and has is recommending Whitehawk Medical Centre, Hangleton Manor Surgery, one based in Boots in North Street and Willow House in Bevendean be closed and their lists dispersed.

Brighton Homeless Homecare in Morley Street is set to continue under a new contract, with GP Tim Worthley leading a potential bid with four others to run the service.

The news has been met with dismay by campaigners, who do not believe there is enough room at other practices to take on new patients.

Patients from the Willows have set up a petition calling for the practice to be saved, which has more than 1,300 signatures.

Others have also contacted NHS authorities to express their concerns and have vowed to continue to keep the pressure on.

A spokeswoman from Sussex Defend the NHS said: “That there has been no change to the recommendations by NHS England to close the Willows and the other surgeries in the city is appalling.

“Bevendean patients are going to be 'dispersed' around other surgeries which will cause all sorts of worry and disruption for the elderly, young mums with children and those with learning and mental health issues. The other local surgery is creaking at the seams anyway.

“A key policy of the Brighton and Hove CCG and the council is to reduce health inequalities in the city.

“We are looking carefully at whether NHS England have thoroughly addressed the required impact assessment here as there may well be grounds for challenge.”

NHS England is expected to make a final decision later this month.

A spokeswoman said: “Following further discussions with local community representatives we will be taking into account all factors in reaching a final decision that will ensure ongoing care for patients currently registered with The Practice Willow House, The Practice Hangleton Manor, The Practice Whitehawk and The Practice North Street."