ELDERLY patients could face an long walk to their doctor if a GP surgery is shut.

The planned closure of Matlock Road Surgery in Brighton means people will instead have to go to Beaconsfield Medical Practice in Preston Road to see a doctor, which could mean an extra walk of at least 20 minutes.

The surgeries announced they could merge in March 2020 if plans are approved.

Brighton and Hove city councillor Sarah Nield said the merger would have a “serious impact” on elderly and vulnerable residents.

The Green councillor, who represents Withdean ward, said: “Matlock Road Surgery is right in the heart of a nest of streets, part of a parade of shops serving the local community. We remain concerned that a useful community hub may disappear, forcing residents to travel further afield for their needs.

“While the CCG [clinical commissioning group] claims that services will not be affected, I’m also concerned that this may mean we will lose yet another GP surgery in the city.

“We are already dealing with a dwindling number of GP surgeries and an appalling GP-to-patient ratio.”

A spokesman for NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds GPs in the city, said the decision to merge the two surgeries was up to the doctors themselves.

He said: “The surgery partners have told us they have come to the decision to merge practices to ensure their future sustainability and provision of care to their valued patients.

“Patients will be consulted on their views before a final decision is made by the CCG whether to agree to the proposed business plan.

“We have put extensive measures in place to support GPs in the city to help them run their surgeries more effectively.”

David Liley, chief executive of health watchdog Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, said it would be “impossible to speculate” on the effects of the merger.

But he said the trend of surgeries combining their resources is

becoming more popular among GPs.

Mr Liley said: “The idea is doctors get more shared resources than if they worked in a small surgery.

“Despite there having been a lot of mergers, the indication from our ongoing GP review is that waiting times for patients remain high.”