Angry patients facing the closure of Eaton Place GP practice described the search for a new GP as ‘absolute chaos’ and a ‘mad scramble’ at a public meeting held by Labour's Nancy Platts in December.
Eaton Place GP Practice is expected to close on 28th February 2015 due to the retirement of the current GPs.
The meeting, held as part of the campaign to ‘Replace Eaton Place’ was chaired by Frances McCabe of Healthwatch Brighton and Hove.
At the meeting one couple described how this was the second time they had to move doctors in four years due a previous GP practice closing, again due to retirement.
A female patient, who had been diligently contacting each of the 15 alternative GP practices on the list supplied by NHS England, said: “I spent a full working day going through the list of 15. Two involved two buses and a long walk, two said I lived in the wrong postcode, two had poor NHS ratings and one was no longer there.”
One woman, commenting on the distances people would be expected to travel to get to a new GP said they had been measured ‘as the crow flies’ so to get to some in a short space of time, “You would need a helicopter’.
Others said that when they tried to register at a new surgery they were turned away and told to wait for an ‘open day’ or come back in January or February 2015. This left them feeling very worried about whether they would be able to find a new GP near to their home.
Nancy Platts said: “I am horrified at the way people are being treated. The confusion about where responsibility lies for ensuring patients have a local GP is a direct result of the fragmentation of the NHS under this Conservative-led Government.
"Expecting people from East Brighton to travel half way across town to see their GP or turning them away when they try to register somewhere else is unacceptable. NHS England must get a grip of this situation, there is a clearly a need for a GP surgery in this part of East Brighton and we cannot have over 5,000 people left frantically trying to find a new doctor.”
East Brighton Ward Councillor, Warren Morgan said: “We cannot afford to lose a GP surgery in East Brighton and we need to ‘Replace Eaton Place’.
"I have written to NHS England and this issue will be discussed at the Health and Wellbeing Board next Tuesday. I will continue to fight to keep local GP services for people in my Ward and I will be asking the Board to look urgently at new options for a surgery in the area.”
Many patients also expressed concern that they could no longer register with a particular GP and felt that it was time-wasting and sometimes upsetting to have to keep re-explaining their medical condition.
One man with mental health issues said that having a one-to-one relationship with a doctor was very important to him and was worried that he might have to see a different GP each time.
Labour Council Candidate and Eaton Place patient Maggie Barradell led the call for people to go with her, Cllr Gill Mitchell and Nancy Platts to the Health and Wellbeing Board next week to make their views known. They are urging people to join them and will be gathering at 3pm outside Hove Town Hall on Tuesday 9th December.
The petition to ‘Replace Eaton Place’ can be found at http://www.nancyplatts.org.uk/replaceeatonplacegp or you can follow the campaign on Twitter with hashtag #replaceeatonplaceGP