A South London GP surgery that received a “high level of complaints” will shut next month after its only doctor handed in their resignation.

The Rowans Surgery in Longthornton, Merton, is expected to close for good on October 31 after health bosses say the building is unsafe and it has been difficult to hire clinical staff.

Its 5,000 patients will now be moved to other surgeries in the area.

At a Merton Council meeting on Tuesday, September 6, local councillors expressed their disappointment with the decision and asked why nothing was done sooner as the problems have been evident for more than 20 years.

The local NHS has promised a new health facility in the east of the borough but some are sceptical it will ever be built.

Mark Creelman, NHS South West London executive director, said the contract with the current provider comes to an end on October 31 and cannot be extended after the lead clinical GP handed in their notice.

He said: “[This leaves] the practice with no leadership, no clinical supervision that is actually leading to an unsafe service.

"In terms of the current Rowans, the premises are not fit for purpose and indeed are not safe anymore.

“This current provider is unable to recruit any staff that are substantial and staying in the practice.

"Over the last five years, we have had four different providers try and make Rowans work.

"At the same time, we have had a dwindling patient list.

“In 2016 that patient list was around 9,000 to 10,000 –  it’s currently just under 5,000 and we are seeing people vote with their feet and register elsewhere.

"We are proposing to disperse the list, which is basically to shut down that practice and support people to be registered at surrounding practices.”

He added that the surgery has been receiving a “high level of complaints”.

Labour councillor for Pollards Hill, Martin Whelton, said people in the East of Merton, which is the most deprived part of the borough, were being let down by the decision and said he was not confident a health hub in the area would be built.

Cllr Whelton said: “I am sceptical whether this will ever be built, it has been 10 years on the cards [for] this new facility.

"I think it’s extremely disappointing that this decision has been made when residents were promised a new surgery.”

While Labour Councillor Agatha Mary Akyigyina, who lives in the east of the borough said: “The majority of the residents feel as though they are a good meal ticket because everyone uses the east as an excuse to get funding and nothing gets done.

"If this is going to get done you have to do something.”

A final decision on the closure of the surgery is set to be made at the end of September.

The local NHS is sending out letters to those affected and said it will be talking to local people about the proposal to “disperse the list”.