ABOUT 2,000 patients in Old Town will be competing for limited places at a handful of practices following the announcement of Marlborough Road Surgery’s impending closure.

Residents were informed that the practice would shut for good on March 31 in a letter sent by their GP, Dr Rohlfing, over the weekend.

The unexpected news raised concerns among patients that they might have to move to surgeries in Eldene or further afield to receive treatment.

The decision to close the practice was criticised by Labour’s Prospec-tive Parliamentary Candidate Anne Snelgrove, who said the move would place people’s health at risk.

In an apologetic letter to patients Dr Rohlfing said he had explored every avenue to keep the practice running, to no avail. He did not go into the reasons which prompted the closure.

“I have explored all options for the future and decided that running the practice at 143 Marlborough Road is no longer viable,” he said.

“I have not taken the decision to close the practice lightly.

“I would like to thank you, my patients, for the loyalty you have shown to me and my team, and the good relationships we have built with you over the years.

“I am working with NHS England’s Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire area team to help support all of our patients during this period of change.

“By the end of March you will need to register with an alternative GP practice of your choice.

Bryan Collier, 54, of Broome Manor has attended the surgery for the past 20 years.

“It’s a bit of a shock. Some people are still receiving letters now; it is not much notice.

“The nearest practice is the Lawn Medical Centre but they are going to be overrun with people trying to apply. “And there is a three-month waiting list there.

“We were sent a list of other GP practices with the letter and one of the ones suggested is in Eldene. It’s miles away. People with mobility problems won’t be able to go far.”

Anne Snelgrove said: “This is worrying news for local residents.

“I’m not convinced that we have the capacity in Swindon to enable up to 3,000 people to find another doctor’s surgery that is convenient to them.” “I am calling on the Clinical Commissioning Group to take immediate action to support the patients of Marlborough Road Surgery find a new surgery.”

A spokesperson for the NHS England Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon & Wiltshire Area team said:

"Dr Robert Rohlfing of Marlborough Road Surgery in Swindon has tendered his resignation from his General Medical Services contract. 

"He wrote to all his patients advising them of his decision and that after 31st March 2014 they will have to register with a new medical practice in the area. 

"He has reassured his patients that he will continue to see them up until that time and has also directed people to local practices that they can register with and to further information on the NHS Choices website."