By Sally Boyce

ONE of the county’s biggest and newest GP practices faces an uncertain future with treatment for thousands of patients at stake.

Opened just over two years ago, Kington Medical Practice, which serves 8,000 people on either side of the Welsh border, is struggling to sustain services while the GP who fought to see the £3.5 million surgery built has resigned.

A statement put on the practice website this week says a struggle to attract GPs to Kington was posing “serious difficulties” and the current situation was “not sustainable”.

Practice manager, Jacqueline Rudge, told the Hereford Times that staff remained committed to delivering high standards of service provision to patients and the local community.

But there is concern from those living in the centre’s catchment area of the possibility of closure while some patients have already registered elsewhere.

A Kington town councillor has slammed the situation as a “shambles” while the area’s county councillor says the practice is paying for an “over-optimistic”

view of what it could offer renting space to other health practitioners.

Ms Rudge confirmed that the centre is “continuing to supply services with 2.5 permanent GPs and the support and help of locum GPs” yet NHS England recommends a minimum of 5.5 doctors at a practice of Kington’s size to provide proper access to medical services.”

A statement on the practice’s website says despite regular recruitment advertising, the centre has struggled to even find locums.

Senior partner Dr Richard King, who fought to secure the purpose-built surgery, resigned from the practice this month.

Before 2013, Kington had six full-time GPs, but two doctors left followed by the part-time doctor last year.

Also last year, the practice shut two branch surgeries at Pembridge and Eardisley due to a GP shortage.

David Lloyd, a patient from Evenjobb and a director of Disability Powys, said concern was growing.

“Everyone’s fed up because we don’t know what’s going on,” he added. “Half the building isn’t used – a lot of things just haven’t come off. There is something radically wrong, it cost nearly £4 million and they can’t run the place.”

Councillor Terry James, Herefordshire Council’s member for Kington, said treatment rooms designed to be rented out to physiotherapists, holistic therapists and dentists had proved too expensive. “I think there was an overoptimistic view of services that could afford to go there.”

Kington town councillor Tom Bounds said the closure concerns reflected an “absolute shambles” at a practice where “no-one wants to make an appointment unless they really have to.”

In a statement from NHS England, Sue Price, director of Commissioning (Herefordshire) said: “NHS England is aware of the current recruitment issues facing Kington Medical Practice.

“We are meeting with the practice to discuss these concerns to ensure that patients have access to highquality GP services.”