MORE THAN 100 Milverton villagers spoke out against plans to close their GP surgery at a fiery public consultation meeting.

Villagers and members of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SOMPAR) met at The Victoria Rooms in Milverton on August 2 for the meeting and angry residents said they were concerned about travel arrangements for getting to Wiveliscombe surgery and that more needed to be done to retain the building for emergency GP appointments.

It was announced the surgery was under threat of closure in July 2016 after a number of doctors left the practice.

SOMPAR, which struck a year-long deal to run the Milverton practice last September, says it now believes the "safest and best way" ahead is to offer services from Lister House, in Wiveliscombe.

Jeremy Smith, head of medical services at SOMPAR said: "We have three options which we are considering.

"To continue to run the service as it is.

"Change the service and look for other more experienced health professionals.

"Look to provide all the services at Wiveliscombe surgery and support patients moving to the surgery.

"We think that moving services over to Wiveliscombe is the best idea but this is by no means decided, we are holding the public consultation meeting to hear your views and we can then take those into consideration and make a decision which we will then submit to NHS England."

Residents grilled the health chiefs about transport arrangements if the surgery closes and the effect the closure will have on vulnerable people.

One resident said: "Things are changing and they will change again but right now we have 2,500 people in Milverton who may be expected to travel to Wiveliscombe and there is no plan as to how they are going to get there.

"The surgery building is 30 years old, if it is sold you will never get it back, seriously it is better to keep it one way or another."

A number of villagers echoed the resident's comment and Karen Prosser, ‎associate director of commercial development and strategic partnerships at SOMPAR said talks were already ongoing to find a permanent transport solution.

"If we are going to close the surgery we know there will need to be provision made to ensure Milverton residents have transport to Wiveliscombe surgery" she said.

"We have had an initial conversation with Wivey Link to see if we could get a bus service running specifically to take patients to the surgery however, we do understand that a number of factors need to be taken into consideration.

"We need to ensure patients can easily pick up their prescriptions and have easy access to emergency care if needed, these are things we are considering as we have these talks."

Another resident said: "Given that almost a third of the surgeries patients live in Milverton, is it possible to bring the team to the Milverton surgery for maybe two days a week and have dedicated GP appointments?

"A lot of the patients who use the Milverton surgery are old and vulnerable, some are house bound and travelling to Wiveliscombe for appointments would just not be feasible for them."

Nick Broughton, chief executive of Somerset Partnership said there isn't enough space to accommodate the team.

"Colleagues have real concerns about the quality of care we deliver from Milverton.

"We can't fit the whole team into the building and provide a good service, its just too small."

The public consultation period ends on September 4 after which health chiefs will compile a report which will be submitted to NHS England who will then make a final decision about the surgeries future.