Council dismayed at further healthcare closures in east Merton

Councillors in Merton have expressed grave concern after NHS bosses agreed to close a GP surgery in the east of the borough without proper consultation with partners.

South-West London’s Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) recently circulated a briefing note to the council’s director of public health, confirming the decision to shut Rowans Surgery in Longthornton and disperse the patients to other practices in the area.

The GP surgery will close in October, with no proper consultation taking place with the council.

Problems at the surgery have been well documented – it was recognised that the facility was not fit for purpose as long ago as 2008, with a business plan approved in 2012 to relocate the surgery to a more suitable building. More recently, patients have had to visit other surgeries in the area for GP appointments.

However, councillors are angry that despite having 14 years to solve the issue, nothing has changed and a unilateral decision has now been taken to shut it, leaving the most vulnerable to find ways to travel to other surgeries up to a mile and a half away.

Councillor Peter McCabe, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care, said: “We have spent years fighting to ensure fair health provision for residents in the east part of the borough where health inequalities are greatest – to close a GP surgery without proper consultation is another slap in the face for local residents.

This is the second time in recent years that a GP surgery has been abruptly closed.  In 2017 the GP surgery at the Wilson Health Centre closed, dispersing patients to other GPs at very short notice.   Now we are hearing of another closure of a GP surgery without the NHS talking to the partner agencies who are there to represent our borough’s residents.

For years we’ve been waiting for a health facility in the east of the borough comparable with the facilities provided at the Nelson Hospital at Wimbledon.

Then, of course, there is the ongoing bid to remove A&E and maternity services from St Helier rather than invest into the hospital and maintain critical care for local residents.

We have requested an urgent meeting with the SWL ICP senior leadership to make it clear we are not happy with this proposal, but they have declined to meet us. The SWL ICP has stated that tackling health inequalities is a priority but they need to understand that they will be judged by local people by their actions not by their words.”