A VILLAGE doctors’ surgery could be closed within two months.

Campaigning residents claim only half of patients registered at Birch's surgery, Winstree Medical Practice, have been told officially.

The nearest alternative surgeries are Malting Green, Layer-de-la-Haye and Stanway, with the closest being more than two miles away.

Elaine Bowtle, chairman of Birch Parish Council, said she was one of the “shocked” patients who received a letter from the surgery to say the closure was being suggested.

She said: “There are so many concerns.

How are people who cannot drive and the elderly are going to get to surgeries in Layer and Stanway?

There is no direct bus route.”

“I am just so worried about what's going to happen. We haven't got a Post Office now, or a shop. We have lost everything.”

Birch Parish Council has written a formal objection to the proposals which it has sent to the surgery, NHS England and MP Priti Patel.

The council is planning a public meeting and hopes representatives from NHS England and the surgery will attend.

Andrew Ellis, who represents Birch on Colchester Council, said the option of aweekly shuttle bus service was being considered, but added: “Howmany people are going to say ‘I can be ill onaWednesday?’ “We have got to do what we can to protect rural services.”

Diana Balcombe, practice manager at the surgery, said: “Unfortunately we have now reached crunch point where we have to make a decision about how we can best deliver health services to people in and around Birch.

“It has not been an easy decision and we will be very sad if we can’t continue to provide a convenient GP service in the village, but we are already providing a good home-visiting service to particular older people who find it difficult to come to us.”

Mrs Balcombe said the practice has two Advanced Nurse Practitioners who do one-day-a week on these visits and are happy to expand the home delivery service for medications.

She added: “We are looking at alternative ways to provide appointments with a GP locally, perhaps using other local premises, but there are a n umber of considerations we have to ensure are met.

“I know many of our local patients greatly value the surgery in Birch, and we will do everything possible to continue to provide a good service for them.

“Our lease on the premises expires in November, and we don’t have the ownership structure here at the practice to be able to commit to the new lease on offer.”