A GP practice in Bridgwater is closing this Wednesday (August 11) due to staffing shortages.

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has made the decision to close Victoria Park Medical Centre, located in Victoria Park Community Centre.

Cllr Mick Lerry, chair of the board at Victoria Park Community Centre, said the closure is ‘a real concern’.

He is worried patients who are being relocated to other doctors surgeries in the town will put a great strain on the already busy practices.

“We thought the CCG would improve the service,” he said.

“But instead they are making healthcare less accessible to Bridgwater residents.

Bridgwater Mercury: CLOSING: Victoria Park Medical Centre in Bridgwater

“At the time of a pandemic this is a real concern to the board and myself as chair of the centre.

“The Victoria Park Community Centre was established to act as an import hub for the community

"It was about local authorities and the CCG working together to provide health care for the community and well-being for children.”

Somerset CCG has said the Jhoots community pharmacy on the site will remain open, despite the closure of the medical centre.

They said they worked closely with staff at the practice to find a solution, but did not manage to find one.

“The team has continued to operate the practice and have worked extremely hard to maintain safe patient care," a spokesperson for Somerset CCG said.

"We are very grateful for their dedication.

“All possible alternative options have been explored, but it has not been possible to find a way to provide a permanent, adequate safe service at the practice.

"This is not a decision that has been taken lightly, and our priority continues to be the safety of our patients and to ensure that people can continue to access local healthcare services when needed.

“We understand that this will be an anxious time for many local residents and would like to reassure registered patients that we are doing everything we can to support. Patients registered with the practice will be re-registered with another local practice.”

Cllr Julie Cordiner, councillor for Victoria Ward, said she was ‘totally shocked’ by the news of the closure.

“These are difficult times for many people and for most people the trusted GP is a lifeline, offering not only medical services, but consistent support in a difficult world,” she added.

“For many the prospect of being forced to attend a different GP service will bring worry and anxiety at a time when many people are already worried and anxious due to Covid-19.

“We also must not forget those who may find it difficult to access care away from their community, those who do not have a means of transport who are ultimately going to experience increased transportation costs whenever they need to visit their GP.”

MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Ian Liddell-Grainger, said there are 'significant' staffing problems in many areas of the health service. 

"The closure of a front-line unit such as the Victoria Park centre is going to cause immense difficulties for patients registered there," he said.

“Transferring them to other health centres is only going to add intolerably to thepressures their staff are currently working under. It can only be a stop-gap solution and I do not accept it as being anything more than that.

“The Somerset CCG must realise they cannot draw a line under this matter and declare that the centre will be permanently closed. Every effort must be made to recruit the necessary staff and get the centre up and running again as soon as possible.”