PATIENTS due to be turfed out of Marlborough Road Surgery at the end of March are facing a struggle to get themselves re-registered with nearby GPs.
Dr Robert Rohlfing wrote to the 2,000 patients he has registered at his practice in Old Town over the first weekend of the month and informed them it would permanently close on March 31.
He apologised to patients and told them he had tried every which way to keep the surgery open, but it was no longer viable and he would no longer practise in the area.
The unexpected news has left patients scrambling for any remaining places at nearby practices, although catchment areas and waiting lists could leave many without a GP once Dr Rohlfing closes his doors.
The Hermitage Surgery, the second closest surgery to the Marlborough Road practice, has closed its doors to new patients having been inundated with applications to register. New enquirers are being advised to wait six months before trying to register.
Lawn Medical Centre is taking on any Marlborough Road patients who live in the SN3 postcode, although any outside this catchment area will not be permitted.
Kingswood Surgery is also accepting new patients who live within a four mile radius.
Meanwhile Anne Snelgrove, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, has criticised the planning process which preceded the letter sent out to patients by Dr Rohlfing.
She is concerned the 2,000 people left without a doctor are being left to fend for themselves when the NHS should have put procedures in place to have the patients re-registered elsewhere promptly.
She said: “My concern is clearly this has been known about for some time. If you sent a letter out 10 days ago that will have had a process before it with the local NHS people.
“It is NHS England’s job to make sure everyone in the country has a GP, but nobody appears to be taking any responsibility for it.
“It appears it’s every man and woman for his and herself. NHS England has washed their hands with it. There should be a plan in place and no need for chasing. To have a letter sent out nearly two weeks ago and people still not know what’s going on is hopeless.”
A spokesman 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 March 31 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.”