22,000-patient merger still going ahead despite Rustington practice closure

The merger of two GP practices in Littlehampton and Rustington will still be going ahead, despite news of another surgery closing.

Last week, the Gazette revealed that The Lawns Surgery in Glenville Road, Rustington, would be shutting its doors for good when its senior partner Dr Charles Shlosberg retired at the end of June.

Around 2,700 patients will be affected – but the NHS urged them to stay at the practice while they finalised a transition plan.

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This came days after Dr Tim Kimber announced his practice – Park Surgery, in St Floras Road, Littlehampton – and Westcourt Medical Centre in The Street, Rustington, would merge this year to form a 22,000-patient medical group.

Dr Tim Kimber

Speaking to the Gazette on Monday, Dr Kimber said the merger was still going ahead as planned. When asked how the Lawns closure would affect it, he said: “The merger puts us in a more comfortable position to take on more patients, but it is not the raison d’être for the merger.”

He said an exact agreement would be finalised by the end of June – the same time The Lawns Surgery would close.

Dr Kimber was hopeful the merger would be completed by the end of the year. In a previous statement, he said both practices’ buildings and staff would be kept.

Local surgeries have already taken on more than 7,000 patients after Arun Medical Group closed in 2016.

Park’s patient list is currently capped, and Fitzalan Medical Group in Littlehampton cannot take on more patients while it is in special measures.

He reiterated the message for Lawns patients to stay put for now: “It is horribly unnerving for patients, especially when you keep seeing it happening, but I would ask that Dr Shlosberg’s patients simply allow us time.

“Don’t panic, don’t worry – we are keenly aware of the situation and are working very hard so that when the time comes, medical care will be there for all who need it.”

The newly-formed medical group is looking for names – although Dr Kimber was quick to rule out Arun Medical Group.

He said: “We would be more than happy to listen to any ideas patients might have.”