Patients face a 10-mile round trip if surgery moves

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A DOCTORS' surgery is set to close and merge with another practice - leaving patients with a 10-mile round trip.

The Locks Road Surgery in Locks Heath has sent out more than 3,000 letters saying it is looking to consolidate its services with the Whiteley Surgery in Whiteley.

But some patients say they will struggle to make the long distance.

Dr John Burwell, 80, was a partner at the Locks Road Surgery before retiring and now lives next door, but is still on its books as a patient.

He said: 'They have allowed the surgery to rot away and the building hasn't been maintained.

'They don't care about the patients here on the south side of the M27.

'It sounds like the closure is more or less a fait accompli, even though they've sent out this questionnaire.

'There's a lot of elderly patients use this surgery and it's not going to be easy for them to get to Whiteley.

'They can't all drive, the public transport is limited and taxis are expensive.

'I think the whole thing is being done for the benefit of the doctors.'

The surgery says it is looking to shut on March 31.

The letter to patients gives seven reasons for closure, including the retirement of senior partner Dr Stephen Whitaker, the building no longer being 'fit for purpose' and the staffing problems caused by having to run two sites at Locks Heath and Whiteley.

The questionnaire asks how patients would cope with the Locks Heath closure, what problems they can see arising if it goes ahead and if they would stay registered or move to a new practice.

Cllr Sean Woodward, ward councillor for Whiteley, said: 'This is causing huge consternation amongst the patients.

'My colleagues in Locks Heath have been receiving numerous tearful calls from worried elderly residents.

'And the Whiteley Surgery was built to cater for future expansion of Whiteley, but Whiteley patients have not been consulted, and the logistics of reaching Whiteley from Locks Heath are not great.

Dr Richard Roope, from the practice, said: 'We regret that this does impact on people who feel frightened and vulnerable, but unfortunately the status quo is not an option.

'Some of the comments that have come back already are quite hurtful - suggesting we're doing this for own financial benefit, and that's simply not true.'

Dr Roope added the consultation was being funded by the practice and not from public money and that they were looking into ways of improving transport links between Locks Heath and Whiteley.

All responses from patients need to be returned by January 14.