By Saul Cooke-Black

A GP SURGERY will be forced to close due to a lack of staff, as the national shortage of general doctors hits Stroud.

After serving patients for 67 years, St Luke’s Medical Centre will permanently close on September 30.

With two doctors at the surgery set to retire, the NHS practice in Cainscross Road, Stroud, has been unable to recruit replacements despite an extensive search.

The practice had tried to merge with another surgery to avoid closing, but without success.

Its sister surgery in Tuffley will also close, leaving a total of around 3,650 patients looking for a new doctor.

Dr Michael Evans, from St Luke’s, said: “This has been a difficult decision, but under the circumstances there was no other option.”

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it and St Luke’s had “worked hard” to find new doctors to stay open.

Dr Evans added: “We would like to thank all our patients – it has been a pleasure and a privilege to care for them.”

A letter has been sent to patients to say they will be able to register at another practice near their homes.

Helen Goodey, from Gloucestershire CCG, said: “Everything that could have been done has been done to secure the future of St Luke’s."

One of the first anthroposophical – a type of holistic treatment devised by Rudolf Steiner – NHS practices in the country, St Luke’s was based solely in Tuffley until opening in Stroud in 1998.

Nationally, there has been a 500 per cent rise in the number of GP surgeries approaching the NHS for advice about shutting their doors or merging with nearby practices.

Funding cuts and problems recruiting doctors led to 169 GP surgeries contacting NHS England between April and December last year for advice on closing or joining forces with a nearby practice, compared to just 37 the previous year.

More than 650 surgeries have been merged, taken over or shut down since 2010 across the country.