PATIENTS who have had their surgery close could now face more problems after being told they are out of catchment area for the alternative surgery.

The Southbourne Grove surgery in Westcliff, part of the Pall Mall surgery in Leigh, will close next month after it was decided the building was no longer fit for purpose.

The surgery’s 3,500 patients were informed they would automatically remain part of the Pall Mall surgery but many elderly patients will face a much longer journey to see their doctor.

It has now emerged that the Pall Mall surgery has informed those patients who live out of the catchment area they would have to find an alternative doctor.

Martin Maynard, 70, who moved to Rochford ten years ago, has been a patient at Southbourne Grove surgery for 25 years.

In a letter to Southend West MP Sir David Amess, Mr Maynard said: “When we were told that the practice was going to be taken over by the Pall Mall Surgery I was told there was to be no change. I went to book a appointment last month and was told that it would not be possible as I lived outside the catchment area.

“I think it is appalling the way Pall Mall Surgery is treating people.”

Patient and trainee doctor Unnati Patel has also written to Sir David. She said: “By closing down this branch, thousands of patients will have no choice but to go to the Pall Mall surgery. The wait times will double and the amount of time allocated for each visit will be to a minimum. People say time is money, but has anyone thought time is also life?”

Southbourne Grove GP Krishna Chaturvedi is set to retire following the closure.

He said: “I believe my patients when they say that the communication has been terrible.

“Many of my patients said they only got information from the Echo. Just think of the vulnerable group of elderly, home-confined patients with long term conditions, including mental illness who need continuing care.”

Sir David said he was looking into his constituents’ concerns.

Jane Coldicott, practice manager at Pall Mall Surgery said: "Due to significant pressures linked to an increase in patient demand, Pall Mall Surgery took the decision in February this year, to review the registration of patients living out of area, including patients living in Colchester, Maldon and London for example.

"To exemplify this demand, we completed 437 home visits in the month of September alone which takes staff out of the practice reducing our ability to see patients at the practice.

"All patients received a letter advising them of this decision with a month’s notice to identify an alternative GP practice closer to their homes.

"This decision was completely separate from the difficult need to close the Southbourne Grove branch site on the basis that the building is not fit for purpose and requires significant investment to ensure that it meets the required regulations.”

John Spicer, director of primary care and operations for NHS Southend CCG and NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG said: "The decision to register patients who live outside practice boundary areas is the up to individual practices.

"If the practice has limited capacity or feels it is not clinically appropriate or practical to be registered far away from someone’s home, they can give 30 days’ notice for the patient to identify an alternative GP practice.

"In the vast majority of cases, it is in the best interests of the patient to be registered to a practice close to their home.

In regards to the decision to close the Pall Mall branch surgery at Southbourne Grove, there is a choice of other GP practices in the area that patients can register with, and they are advised to visit or call their preferred practice to see if you live within their practice boundary and how to register."

These practices are:

Dr Krishnan – Kent Elms

Dr Malik – Kent Elms

Dr Zaidi – Eastwood Group

Dr Sooriakumuran – (Prince Avenue)

Dr Jayatilaka – (Elmsleigh Drive)

Dr Cordess – (North Road Primary Care Centre)