It is very sad to read the news today that Willow House in Bevendean has closed. The GP practice can trace its roots back 60 years according to this report in Brighton and Hove news and with its closure, comes the end of Primary Health Care in Bevendean, a vital part of our city. Thanks to the successful work at the Bevy, the community retains a focus, but requiring residents to travel out of the community to find a GP practice is something that is more redolent of a small village or hamlet than an important part of the largest city in the South East outside of London. It is surely the role of the City Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group, working together as part of the Health and Wellbeing Board to do as its website entry suggests:
The purpose of the Board is to provide system leadership to the health and local authority functions relating to health & wellbeing in Brighton & Hove. It promotes the health and wellbeing of the people in its area through the development of improved and integrated health and social care services. The HWB is responsible for the co-ordinated delivery of services across adult social care, public health, and health and wellbeing of children and young peoples’ services. This includes decision making in relation to those services within Adult Services, Children’s Services, Public Health and decisions relating to the joint commissioning of children’s and adult social care and health services.
It is vital that our 54 City Councillors work together to protect the needs of the whole of the city. Other communities may well be facing a similar challenge, the same business that has brought Willow House to an end was also running practices in Whitehawk and Hangleton and has ended its work in all of these communities. The history of primary care and its unique relationship between a publicly run NHS and privately run set of GP practices is no doubt part of the reason why such practices have closed. However greater challenges than this have been overcome before and will be addressed in the future. It is surely not beyond the ability of the HWB and its members to resolve this issue for Bevendean and the other communities if they too have been left without a GP practice in the neighbourhood.