A GP recruitment crisis has forced a Bicester surgery to start turning away new patients.

Montgomery Surgery has been forced to suspend new all registrations as it is too short-staffed.

A statement from the practice, in Piggy Lane, said the strain from Bicester's rapid expansion in recent years was to blame.

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It said the surgery was growing by more than 1,000 patients every year and already had 16,000 patients on the books.

The statement, published online, said: "We have proved to be very popular for new patients moving into the new estates in Bicester, as a result we have been growing by 1,100 patients per year.

"We have worked hard to recruit GPs and allied health care professionals to keep ahead of this growth but recent maternity leave of two of our GPs, sickness, and a difficulty in finding appropriate locum GP cover at the present time has meant that it has become very difficult to maintain our usual access to appointments."

The surgery is currently recruiting for locum GPs, permanent GPs and a paramedic.

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It also said the building was no longer big enough to expand patient numbers, and said staff needed to focus on the quality of care for existing patients.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which controls NHS spending in the county, advised new patients to register with Langford Surgery, Victoria House Surgery, or Bicester Health Centre.

The statement, signed by practice partners Dr S Brand, Dr W O’Gorman, Dr E Fallows, Dr K Frankland, Dr A law, added: "As Bicester looks to develop its healthcare provision over the coming few years and the expansion of health care facilities, the three Bicester practices are aware of the limitation on space that all practice currently have to expand and the availability of GPs that are available to be recruited.

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"We will all continue to work together to ensure that capacity remains available within the three practices to enable new residents to register with a practice until additional facilities are developed in the near future."

The suspension comes after Bicester's various GP practices and health centres announced that they were looking to radically change healthcare provision in the town.

In February, Alchester Medical Group announced plans to close the four GP practices in Bicester to instead run their services all under one roof.

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It would mean tens of thousands of patients from Langford, Victoria House, Montgomery House and Ambrosden would be forced to go to a new 'super hub' on the edge of Bicester.

The Bicester Health Centre, the only other local GP practice, is set to stay at its current site at Coker Close and has plans to expand there.

A site for the new 'super surgery' is yet to be announced, but the new Graven Hill and Kingsmere estates have both been flagged as potential sites.

Montgomery House Surgery practice manager Steve Sharpe said the temporary suspension was not related to the proposed changes with Bicester's healthcare provision.

He added: "[It is] purely one of ensuring we continue to deliver the very high standard of care to our current patients, whilst we recruit new clinical staff to take account of our growth and maternity cover.

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"We are presently interviewing a number of candidates for these roles, and so hope to open our lists again soon."

The suspension is expected to be reviewed in August.

Oxfordshire CCG spokeswoman Josephine Wilkes said: "We would expect the practice to re-open its list to new registrations before moving site.

"However the practice is reaching capacity in terms of space to see patients despite some recent re organisation work.

"The practice is still assessing the options on the sites available for a new building."