SENIOR health bosses have reluctantly endorsed the closure of a Borders village GP surgery – the result of a failure to attract new doctors.

Chirnside Medical Practice in Berwickshire is to close its doors for the final time on March 31.

A meeting of Borders NHS Board heard there was ‘no other option’ but to close the surgery, part of the larger Merse Medical Practice seven miles away in Duns.

Exhaustive attempts to attract new partners to join the Chirnside practice had failed over an 18-month period.

Members were told that it was a pragmatic decision as the choice was between having ‘no service or a limited service’.

Cathy Wilson, NHS Borders general manager for primary and community services, said: “Merse Medical Practice had exhausted all possible options over the years to maintain the service. The model, which is essentially running across two sites, was no longer sustainable.

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“Merse Medical Practice has a patient list size of 6,700 patients, 26 per cent of those live in the Chirnside area. We were very much aware that it wasn’t just Chirnside we were looking at but the entirety of the contract which was under pressure.

“We could not solve the core problem of keeping Chirnside open, which was to actually find GPs to sustain the provision of that service. Regrettably, after a few meetings of looking into it, and because of the pressures, the closure was the only option in order to safeguard the service to ensure Merse Medical Practice would not ultimately hand the contract back to the board.”

Tim Young, associate medical director for primary and community services, said: “It was quite clear that the service they provide is excellent and the public recognise that and they wanted to continue to provide that service, albeit it in a different form.”

In a bid to alleviate issues around the closure, including transport implications from Chirnside to Duns, an option is being explored of providing home visits to those patients deemed too unwell to travel to the Duns surgery.

Another move is the organisation of appointment times at the Duns surgery around public transport timetables.