Walsall GPs merger bid dropped

Controversial plans to merge two GP surgeries in Walsall and put thousands of patients under one roof have been scrapped, health bosses announced today.

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The plan was to create a practice of more than 5,000 patients by closing the Wharf surgery in Pleck Road and transferring patients to Sai Medical Practice in Forrester Street.

But the two surgeries will now continue to operate separately after a wave of opposition to the NHS Walsall plans.

Campaigners have today welcomed the decision, which was backed by the board of the Black Country Cluster of Primary Care Trusts. It follows an extensive public consultation in which the majority of patients opposed the plans.

Gulfam Wali, of the Sai patient participation group, said: “I hope that we can build on the dialogue we’ve had with NHS Walsall so far and work with them so that patients have a real opportunity to shape the future of their local GP services.”

Mark Pulford, of the Wharf patient participation group, said: “As far as I’m concerned, this is a win-win-win situation.

“This must be one of the most successful consultation exercises that I’ve been party to in the last 38 years. What we’ve seen is that people really care about their GP services and they are passionate about defending them.”

Phil Griffin, of NHS Walsall, said there had been strong opposition and concerns raised about traffic.

He said: “We still believe that merging these two practices would have been an excellent opportunity for us to further improve the quality of family doctor services for both sets of patients.

“However, we said throughout this consultation that we would listen carefully to what local people, in particular patients, had to tell us.”