Up to 2,000 patients in Sheffield are being left without a GP following a decision by NHS chiefs to close a doctor’s surgery.
Dr Gurcharan Singh Chadha, who sees patients single-handedly at Westfield Health Centre in Westfield, is retiring at the end of next month - but, instead of replacing him, or offering his contract to another practice, NHS England says its ‘only realistic option’ is to close the surgery.
But practice manager Lorraine Liddell said staff had been left ‘gobsmacked’ by the decision.
She said: “Other surgeries haven’t got the room to take on our patients. We’re supposed to be providing more local services, and they’re being taken away.”
The nearest alternative surgeries are in Crystal Peaks, Beighton and Mosborough. Dr Chadha has practised in Westfield for more than 30 years, and the centre employs seven people.
Lorraine’s daughter Claire, an administrator at the surgery, added: “We have up to 2,000 patients - the other local surgeries would not have the facilities to take them on. It already takes a week or two to get an appointment here.”
An email from NHS England to Dr Chadha, seen by The Star, said his contract ends on December 31 and that the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group had ‘no specific plans for the area or the centre’.
Giving Dr Chadha’s contract to another practice to operate as a branch site was ‘not permitted under European procurement regulations’, it said.
Meanwhile attracting another provider ‘did not seem likely’ because of a lack of a lease agreement on the health centre building, the ‘small patient list size’ and ‘future funding changes’.
A payment known as the minimum practice income guarantee is being phased out over the next four years.
“The option of dispersing the list is considered to be the only realistic option,” the email said.
A consultation letter will be sent out to staff, patients, councillors, health trusts and others affected by the closure.