Thousands of people in Carshalton could lose access to vital NHS services as the landlords of a local GP surgery have given notice to evict the practice following a property dispute. 

Campaigners believe the closure of the surgery could displace some 4,000 patients onto nearby services the already stretched.

The Carshalton Fields GP surgery on Crichton Road, Carshalton Beeches, is due to close next month following a dispute between the current practice owners and the property’s landlords.

Your Local Guardian: Carshalton Fields Surgery sits adjoining another property on Crichton Road Credit: Google Maps

The surgery, a semi-detached property on a residential road, is currently owned by Dr Raj and Kusum Goel who practiced as the surgery’s previous GPs.

Patients who previously relied on this busy surgery are now facing the prospect of a difficult few months trying to find a new surgery.

According to Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, believes this will be challenging for patients given the current strains on GP capacities.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Colburn said: “The local GP surgeries would struggle to accommodate 4,000 patients.

"It’s next to impossible to move that number into one surgery, they would have to be dispersed between two or three to be able to cope.

“The local surgeries are quite spread out. There’s the large Jubilee Health Centre in Shotfield and Wallington, apart from that they are all spread out further away from where Carshalton Fields is at the moment.”

News of this change has come as a shock to patients of the small surgery, some of whom have used it since its opening nearly 40 years ago.

Carshalton couple, Mavis and Peter French, are lifelong users of the Carshalton Fields Surgery, and now fear how they will adjust to finding a new service in the area.

Mavis said: “We moved to this area in the 1980s and have been with the surgery ever since starting with Dr Smith then Dr Goel and now Dr Carrasco we have always been very happy with the practice, especially in our later years (we are both in our eighties) and are both registered disabled.

“We have always been treated both very professionally and caringly.

"My husband had a stroke and has limited mobility he also has short-term memory loss, and to have to go to a different surgery and see different doctors would cause him severe confusion and anxiety.  

“We are most surprised about who is pushing for this to go ahead, as it seems to be so out of character with the doctor we have known for many years.

"We hope a resolution can be found so our family can continue to be supported in the way we always have. This is causing us great anxiety and worry about what will happen.”

This sentiment was shared by another couple, Melissa and Brandon Williams, who feel the decision for the landlords to sell and leave them without a GP surgery will negatively impact their family. 

They told the LDRS: “Carshalton Fields Surgery is a true family-focused community medical service.

"Like many others, Dr Carrasco has been my children’s GP since they were born and has an intimate and caring knowledge of their medical history. 

“To lose such a service to retirement or relocation would be sad but understandable, but for it to occur as a result of an unreasonably forced removal in an environment where NHS services are already stretched is inconceivable.”

Colburn told the LDRS: “GPs sell for much less than a residential home would, so whilst it is on a residential street, the sale price would not be as high.”

He added: “Changing it from a GP surgery to a residential property would require planning permission, the Council confirmed that to ward councillor Moira Butt.

"However, in the discussions we’ve had with them since the Council is now refusing to get involved. We found this very bizarre.”

The property dispute that sparked the landlord’s decision to sell up came following months of discussion between them and the current leaseholders who operate the surgery at the property.

The LDRS understands the leaseholders had discussed the possibility of taking on the freehold of the property from the landlords during the course of the last year. 

However, these plans soon fell apart when the landlord decided to sell the property.

Colburn told the LDRS how this decision to ‘suddenly’ sell led to concern around displaced patients in his constituency.

He said: “A couple of days before the lease was due to expire, the landlord suddenly pulled out of discussions and issued the occupiers with a notice of eviction and said they were trespassing because the lease had expired. They then followed it up and said, we recognise it’s hard to find a new GP so we’re going to give you three months.”

He added: “Everyone should have access to appropriate healthcare and the landlords’ decision is stripping them of that access.

"I am appealing to their conscience to put patient health ahead of any individual dispute. The very fact that the people involved are doctors themselves, should mean that is a priority to them. It’s not too late to do the right thing.”

Despite this initial concern that patients would only have three months to relocate, the landlords have since revised their position and offered an extended lease to the current surgery leaseholder.

The landlord’s legal representatives have told the LDRS that they have ‘offered to grant the surgery business owner a new lease of 9 months on fair and reasonable terms.’

The offer has yet to be accepted by the leaseholder, at the time of writing.

A spokesperson for NHS South West London said: “We are actively working with the practice to try to resolve this difficult situation – and will make sure that registered patients continue to have access to GP services locally.

"The surgery’s building is privately owned and under the lease agreement, there is no legal route for the NHS to challenge the sale.

“If you are registered at Carshalton Fields surgery, please continue to contact the practice as normal and attend booked appointments – we will write to you in the coming weeks to update you on the situation.”

When approached for comment, a representative from Sutton Council said: “The Council is, of course, also concerned about the situation with the Carshalton Fields practice and has raised this matter directly with NHS colleagues. The local Integrated Care Board has since explained to Mr Colburn how the NHS intends to deal with this issue.

“The Council has replied twice now to Elliott Colburn MP stating that this is not a council or planning matter, but an issue for the Integrated Care Board. In this instance, the Council can only act to support the actions of the ICB.”