MILVERTON'S GP surgery is to close in February, NHS England has announced.

Patients will have to travel at least three  miles to see their doctor in Wiveliscombe.

The practice will be replaced by a prescription collection and delivery service, and nurse-led vaccination and health wellness sessions for people with long-term conditions.

NHS England this week informed Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the Lister House Practice in Wiveliscombe and Milverton, that it supported the trust's application to close the Milverton branch surgey.

The application decision claimed it was due to difficulties in recruiting GPs.

A trust spokesman said it recognises that the closure "will be a huge disappointment" to villagers in Milverton.

But he added that the decision was necessary to protect GP services in the long term for all patients in Milverton, Wiveliscombe and surrounding areas.

Dr Andrea Trill, medical director for integrated and community care, said: “We know that Milverton surgery is an important part of the community and that many residents will be disappointed with this decision.

"However, due to ongoing shortages of GPs, Somerset Partnership Trust found it could not sustain services at two sites.

"Given also that the lease for the surgery is due to end in February, the trust applied to NHS England to close the branch surgery at Milverton and this has been supported by NHS England.

“Over many months, we have worked with the local community including Lister House Patient Group, Milverton Parish Council and the Milverton Working Group to discuss and address local concerns.

READ MORE: Fears raised over potential closure of Milverton Surgery

"We recognise transport is a significant issue for some residents and we will be investing in Wivey Link, the local community transport provider, to help those patients without their own transport to get to Lister House.

"We will also provide a small range of services in Milverton, such as flu vaccinations, blood tests and other nurse led group clinics to support people with long term conditions and promote health and wellbeing.

"The surgery will be closed from February 2018 when the current lease expires.

"Information will be provided at Milverton Surgery and on the practice website to keep all patients updated on arrangements and services."

In July, when the potential closure was first raised, Milverton parish councillor Jenny Hoyle, of the Lister House Patients' Group, said: "We're really concerned.

"Courtfields is a 900-metre walk to the bus stop and Creedwell is 700 metres - if someone's disabled it'll take a whole morning or afternoon to get to the doctor and home."

Mrs Hoyle, a board member of Wivey Link, which provides transport for people unable to get around, added: "They've mentioned using Wivey Link, but a sudden influx of people would create a big strain."