Almost 4,000 patients have not registered with a new doctors’ surgery in Merton ahead of the closure of the Wilson Health Centre.

The Wilson Health Centre, in Cranmer Road, Mitcham, is due to close its doors on Friday, March 31, leaving its 5,876 patients to find a new GP.

At a public meeting on February 1, the chair of the Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr Andrew Murray, said it was considered acceptable to close the surgery and relocate the patients because there were less than 6,000 people registered there.

However, a spokeswoman for Merton CCG has confirmed that, as of Wednesday, March 22, just 2,000 of these patients had registered with new surgeries in Merton.

She added that the Merton CCG did not have the data to know whether the remaining 3,876 patients had registered in other areas, such as Sutton or Croydon, or whether they remained unregistered.

Feb 1: Wilson Health Centre closure: Building houses on part of site 'cannot 100 per cent be ruled out'

MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh, has been a vocal opponent of the closure, and expressed concern with the latest figures.

Ms McDonagh said: “There is going to be a lot of people from Mitcham without a GP from next week.

“It can’t be good for them, and it certainly can’t be good for the wider community.

“It takes an awful lot of time to register with a new surgery. If you work long hours, or anti-social hours, if you will lose money or have to take time off from work to make an appointment, then it’s something you’re not going to be able to do.”

Jan 30: 'A lot of people are very worried': Siobhain McDonagh MP urges re-think into closure of Wilson Health Centre the only medical practice with walk-in services in Merton

She added: “Where else can these people turn up but hospitals? It’s going to cause more pressure on A&E.

“I’m very concerned about the impact on hospitals. It’s inevitable that if you’re not registered with a GP and you get ill, you’re hardly going to go through the bureaucracy involved in signing up with a surgery there and then. You’ll go to a hospital.

“I just really don’t want them to close the Wilson.”

The plans for the future of the site include transforming it into a ‘health and wellbeing centre’, complete with some medical and primary care services, as well as ‘community components’ such as arts and crafts, a job centre and an open green space.

However, the spokeswoman for Merton CCG also confirmed that no planning application had yet been lodged by NHS Property Services with Merton Council.

This is despite the fact that official timelines quoted by Merton CCG say building work on the site will begin in March 2018 and be completed by December 2019, with the new centre open to the public by June 2020.

Dr Murray originally told February's public meeting that a planning application had already been submitted, but Merton CCG later revealed this was incorrect. 

February 7: Revealed: Planning application still not submitted for Wilson Health Centre as closure date draws nearer

The full response from the Merton CCG spokeswoman was:

“The site will be redeveloped jointly with Merton Council into a health and well-being facility and, as and when required, an appropriate application will be submitted by NHS Property Services on our behalf for consideration by the planning committee.

"There are no plans to submit an application to continue to house the portacabins on the site. The portacabins will be removed from the site.

"The contract with Concordia Health Ltd to run the GP practice ends on March 31 and all registered patients have been written to on three separate occasions informing them of the closure.

"The CCG has worked with NHS England to ensure the agreed national protocol is followed and has also held four drop-in sessions for people to ask questions and to provide information on options as well as offering a dedicated telephone contact and email address for enquiries.

"It is for individuals to choose a new practice for themselves and whether they wish to do so now or wait until such time as they feel the need to see a GP. We would encourage people to do so now but it has to be their personal choice.

"The CCG has worked with Concordia to ensure that patients categorised as vulnerable are supported through the process. All those patients identified as vulnerable by the practice are now registered with new practices in Merton.

"New registrations at other Merton practices have averaged 300 per week over the last couple of weeks. We do not have figures for those patients choosing to register at practices within other CCG areas such as Croydon or Sutton.

"As of March 22, 2017, 2,000 patients have registered with new practices. "

She added: "There is a well-established process for dispersing a list when a GP practice closes. It is not an uncommon event and happens across the UK.

"It is usual for some patients not to have re-registered with a new practice at the point of closure.

"This can be for a variety of reasons which can include no perceived urgency to register with a new practice and also for any list to include people who have moved away.”

The Merton CCG has been given over £1.5 million over the next two years by NHS England to help improve access to general practice for all Merton residents, and to better integrate out-of-hours services with 111 phone services.

From April 1, the CCG said it will provide two primary care centre hubs open at least 6.30pm until 8pm between Monday and Friday, with both open 8am until 8pm on Saturday and the eastern hub open 8am until 8pm on Sunday.

The west hub is expected to operate from the Nelson Health Centre in Kingston Road, Wimbledon, and the east hub is expected to operate from the Cricket Green Practice in Miles Road, Mitcham, until the Wilson site is up and running.

Update: The hub at the Cricket Green Practice will be running from Saturday, April 1. The hub at the Nelson Health Centre is expected to open in a few weeks, on a date to be confirmed.

For further information about Merton CCG's plans, click here. 

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