A DECISION on whether to merge two Southampton GP surgeries which serve more than 20,000 patients could be made next month.

The Bath Lodge Practice in Commercial Street and Chessel Practice could become one practice due to difficulties with GP recruitment. 

The move could affect 10,328 registered patients at Bath Lodge and has been criticised by local residents and Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith

Health bosses are expected to decide whether to merge the businesses of the two practices to become one and whether to move services from the Bath Lodge site to the two Chessel sites, in Sullivan Road, Sholing and Chessel Avenue, Bitterne

But residents fear the move will make it harder for elderly patients to attend appointments.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said: “I am not happy about this. It’s disgusting. We need Bath Lodge to stay open. It’s a good surgery.”

MP Royston Smith had previously said he believes the move will result in a worse service for patients.

Cllr Dave Shields, cabinet member for healthier and safer city at Southampton City Council (SCC), has encouraged residents to have their say on the proposals.

“I’m worried about the crisis confronting primary care at the moment with not enough doctors. They don’t take this decisions lightly. I wish they were not put in this position.What we need is more investment in our primary care,”he said.

NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the final decision could be made in August.

A spokesman said the CCG is expecting to receive the applications from the practices soon. He added: “The proposal to merge the two practices would be handled as a separate application to the proposal to move services away from the Bath Lodge site, and the decisions would be made independently of each other.

"We recognise that across the country GPs are looking into new ways of working, in light of the challenges they face. We will make sure the needs of local people are taken into account when considering a merger and change to locations.”