AN UNDER-THREAT surgery serving almost 8,000 patients will stay open after health chiefs announced they would choose a new provider by early December.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has now identified a practice to continue services at Cogges Surgery, Witney.

However last week the current partners, who announced in July they were handing back the contract, also asked if they could cancel that decision after finding a new doctor to join them.

They will now have to complete the same application process as the other potential providers.

One way or another, a new provider is now set to be in place by the end of the year, almost two months before OCCG’s February deadline.

The surgery’s short-term future is secure, but Healthwatch Oxfordshire chairman Prof George Smith said he believed the current partners should be allowed to cancel their termination notice.

He said: “We feel this is unnecessarily bureaucratic.

“The people of Witney need clear and decisive action to preserve medical provision at Cogges Surgery.

“If the present team there has found a way to do this, then common sense would suggest that they should be allowed to do so. We hope OCCG will make a swift decision that is both in the best interest of patients and fair to the surgery.”

In July, the doctors running the practice, Dr Sandra Hallett and Dr Amisha Patel, announced they would hand back the contract for providing services after failing to recruit enough partners.

OCCG wrote to practices across the county and identified its chosen provider through its ‘light touch’ procurement process.

Meanwhile, West Oxfordshire District Council set up a cross-party group to work through the issue and residents started a ‘Save Cogges Surgery’ campaign.

District councillor Rosa Bolger, who sat on the cross-party group and chaired the campaign, said: “Keeping GP services on Cogges is exactly what our community was fighting for, and used the power of a campaign to make the community voice heard.”

The Cogges Surgery partners will be evaluated by the same team as other potential providers, including an independent GP, a practice manager and two patients.

Julie Dandridge, head of primary care at OCCG, said: “We believe the decision to allow the partners at Cogges Surgery to take part in the procurement process for primary care services is in the best interest of patients.

“Our priority is to ensure services at Cogges Surgery are good quality and sustainable for the future.”