VILLAGERS in Blunsdon have been given just four weeks to find a new GP practice before being struck off their current surgery register.

Residents were informed by Abbey Meads Medical Practice at the end of January that they would be ‘removed’ from its list in a month’s time as they lived outside of the surgery’s boundary, and that they needed to make room for an influx of new patients.

In a letter to patients seen by the Adver, senior partners explained that new housing developments planned close to Abbey Meads had left them no choice but to ask some of their current patients to leave.

“We traditionally have accommodated patients who reside outside the boundary, but can no longer do so,” they said.

“Our practice continues to grow due to an increase in housing development within our boundary. We and our district nursing team are finding it difficult to cover the large distances between our patients and it is increasingly difficult to provide safe care in emergencies.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and ask that you register with a practice close to your home. After one month, if you have not registered with another practice, we will remove you from our list.”

The news came as a blow to residents, some of whom have been registered with the practice for many years.

Michelle Martin, 38, and her family have been with the Abbey Meads Medical Practice since they moved to Blunsdon seven years ago.

The mother-of-nine, from Ermin Street, said she was appalled at what she described as the practice’s cavalier attitude and staff’s apparent disregard for patients.

“It was not until three weeks ago that we received the latter from them giving us a month to find a new surgery,” she said.

“When I moved to Blunsdon I was told that I was within their boundary. But now they are saying we are no longer within their boundary, which I think is absolutely ridiculous.

“They say it is because of an increase in housing development but patients who are already registered with them should be given priority.

“If we don’t find a new surgery we will be struck off their list. It’s appalling.”

Registering at Blunsdon’s GP surgery was not an option due to its limited opening hours, she said, while the surgery’s initial recommendations of Whale-bridge and Merchiston Surgery, in Highworth, turned out not to be viable options.

Planning applications for housing developments of more than 2,000 homes at Tadpole Farm and Abbey Stadium have been approved by Swindon Council. Further proposals have been lodged at Abbey Farm and on Ermin Street.

Blunsdon Parish Council chairman Ian Jankinson expressed his concern at Abbey Meads Medical Practice’s unexpected move.

“I know it’s happening to some people in Blunsdon and the reason given is that it is because a number of houses are proposed for the area,” he said. “But they have not been built yet. I am concerned for residents because the other alternatives offered don’t seem viable. There is a surgery in Blunsdon but the opening hours are not as good as they are at Abbey Meads.

He said he was expecting answers from the Abbey Meads surgery as well as Swindon council leader David Renard.

A spokesmanfor NHS England (Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon & Wiltshire) said: “Abbeymeads Practice wrote to a small group of patients in Blunsdon to request that they register with a practice that covers the Blunsdon area. “Unfortunately, the details given about alternative practices were incorrect. Abbeymeads immediately wrote a second letter to the same group of patients, with details for Westrop Surgery and Merchiston Surgery, who are accepting patients from Blunsdon.”