GP services in Brighton and Hove and around the country are in a “full-blown crisis” a pressure group has warned.

Sussex Defend the NHS spoke out after it emerged the city is to lose its eighth GP in two years.

Madeleine Dickens, from the group, warned the closure of The Ridgeway Surgery in Woodingdean, Brighton, in October would not be the last as more doctors reach retirement age.

Patients fear the closure could lead to people moving to other practices rather than a new surgery being set up in the area.

Ms Dickens said: “Too many people are now having to travel long distances to visit their GP or are having difficulty finding a GP at all.

“At least six GP practices across the city have closed their lists.

“Elderly and vulnerable people are particularly hard-hit.

“Looming Government plans for primary care services will make the situation worse, bringing in cuts in funding and opening the door wider to privatisation.

“There is a full-blown crisis in GP practice.”

Brighton and Hove city councillor for Woodingdean Steve Bell is one of the more than 2,000 patients at the surgery.

He said: “My concern is that GPs are independent providers and therefore if they decide to close or move away, the NHS has no control over it apart from working to ensure patients continue to get services.”

The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group has written to all patients affected, saying it was aiming to secure alternative arrangements for their care.

It says all patient feedback will be taken into account as it works out what the next steps will be.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has this week been highlighting its concerns about the future of general practice throughout the country.

A spokesman said: “General practice throughout England is under incredible strain from stagnating budgets, staff shortages and rising patient demand, especially from an ageing population.

“The number of full time GPs declined last year despite Government promises to recruit thousands more doctors to help provide the rising number of appointments needed by patients.

“The Government must ensure that places like Brighton and Hove have adequately staffed GP services to meet the demand from the local population.”

BMA GP committee chairman Chaand Nagpaul said in a speech this week that general practice remains on the brink of collapse.

He said: “We are carrying out 50 million more consultations in general practice compared with five years ago, yet latest figures show that today we have fewer GPs per head than then.”