DESPITE concerns about patients not being able to access a new site, a proposal to relocate a village’s doctor’s surgery to a nearby town has been supported by health bosses.

Partners at Riversdale Surgery, in Wylam, revealed that its plans to transfer its services to its partner practice Oaklands Medical Centre in Prudhoe had, in principle, received the backing of the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group.

The news coincided with the upcoming retirement of Dr John Knapton after 35 years of service, which would leave the practice without use of the existing building as the GP planned to sell the property when he called it a day at the end of April.

While the relocation was the preferred option of the partners, members of the community were outraged that the practice was set to leave the village.

The main concerns included access to the new site via a limited public transport network, and also trying to get appointments at what would be a busier practice.

On Tuesday evening, Wylam Parish Council and members of Wylam Surgery Users’ Group met to discuss the latest progress of the relocation plans.

Jos Joules, the chairman of Wylam Parish Council, said: “We are shocked this decision has been taken now, and residents of Wylam and surrounding areas have raised significant concerns about this move with NHS England and Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group.

“We have yet to receive any responses, let alone assurances, that accessible primary healthcare will be retained, especially for our many elderly and disabled residents.”

In a statement on the surgery’s website, partners at Riversdale outlined why they believed the relocation was the best option available.

It read: “Moving to more modern premises at Oaklands will have many benefits for the practice population and we hope that it will also allow long-term sustainability in attracting new doctors and staff in the future.

“Overall, as a practice, we feel very positive about the proposed relocation to one site as it will provide a sustainable, long-term base for us to continue to deliver good quality GP services from.”

Northumberland county councillor for Bywell, Karen Quinn, commented: “Dr Knapton has served the community of Wylam and beyond for over three decades and, from speaking to him, I’m confident that he and his partners are doing everything possible to minimise any disruption to patients as a result of any move, and are, as they always have done, doing their best for the people they look after.

“I’m sure that they will continue to provide a first class service once Dr Knapton has retired.”

Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group was contacted but did not respond by the time of going to press.

A public meeting organised by Wylam Parish Council and Wylam Surgery Users’ Group was being arranged for next month, with the date and venue yet to be confirmed.