GETTING to see a family doctor in Brighton and Hove is more difficult than a year ago according to new research.

A study carried out by the University of Brighton also found almost all of those questioned said more work needed to be done to guarantee no more surgery closures in the city.

Brighton and Hove has lost six practices in the last two years, meaning thousands of patients have had to move to new doctors.

The survey of 700 residents revealed strong opposition to privatising services, urging the city’s clinical commissioning group not to spend money moving NHS contracts to the private sector.

More than 90 per cent were unaware private contractors will soon be considered for providing services including wellbeing and GP out-of-hours, and they preferred them to remain in the NHS.

They said transferring patient transport services from the NHS to private firm Coperforma should not have been allowed to happen.

It was revealed this week Coperforma, which has been beset with problems since taking over the service in April, was being stripped of its contract.

The Brighton Citizen’s Health Services Survey, the second of its kind, was carried out by a team of academics headed by principal lecturer Carl Walker from the university’s college of social sciences.

He said: “The surveys seek to make local peoples’ voices heard on issues of NHS privatisation and cuts.

“Ninety per cent said they have never been consulted by the local CCG on any of the local NHS changes they have carried out in the last three years and 83 per cent thought they had no say at all in the running of their NHS services.

“Perhaps if local people had been more fully involved, the patient transport farce would not have happened.”

Dr Walker said the survey showed 90 per cent want large-scale cuts to the NHS made the subject of wide public consultations before they are made, including any cuts to community-based, integrated healthcare designed to cope with the pressures of a growing and ageing population.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “GP practices are independent contractors to the NHS and where a local GP provider gives us notice on their contract to deliver services, our priority is always to ensure ongoing care for their patients. “

“We know that general practice, like other parts of the NHS, is under real pressure, which is why NHS England recently launched the General Practice Forward View.

“We are working alongside NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to help grow and strengthen local GP services and to support the CCG as they work to develop services that will provide the best possible care to patients in the city over the coming years.”