BOSSES at a Stourbridge GP surgery have admitted they are under severe pressure to meet patient demand.

Lion Health chiefs took to Facebook to highlight the "unprecedented challenges" currently faced by the six-year-old surgery in Lowndes Road which caters for more than 30,000 patients.

In a statement they said the entire NHS was facing similar challenges and that the situation locally has worsened with the closure of other GP practices in the Stourbridge area.

On the surgery's Facebook page @LionHealthGP they said: "Lion Health is facing unprecedented challenges to meet patient demand. This strain is being felt across the whole of the NHS.

"In recent years, three GP practices have closed in Stourbridge, and another GP practice has closed its branch surgery in Wollaston.

"In response to this, Lion Health has offered services to the patients of these establishments.

"Lion Health has not actively sought to expand the patient population that we care for.

"As a result, our practice population has now grown to well over 30,000 patients which has brought with it pressure to meet staggering demands on the telephones and in the surgery.

"Another consequence of this growing population and increasing pressure, has been some GP’s reducing their hours or leaving the practice.

"Given the current recruitment crisis felt throughout the wider NHS we have been, as yet, unable to replace them.

"Lion Health will always pledge to provide care safely and conscientiously. Patient safety is of paramount importance, along with the quality of care we strive to provide.

"Going forwards, this may mean directing patients to Walk-in Centres or other care providers who are more appropriate and can offer our patients safe, efficient care.

"This is a challenging time for patients, doctors and all health care providers; we greatly appreciate your support throughout this challenging time."

Critics have accused bosses at the surgery for biting off more than they could chew by taking on thousands of extra patients over the last few years.

Patients from the old Meriden Avenue surgery in Wollaston were acquired ahead of Lion Health's opening in 2014 and thousands more came along through the merger with Norton Medical Practice in April 2018 and following the closure of The Three Villages branch surgery in Wollaston in April 2019.

One Facebook poster said: "In extending the olive branch to patients of those other practices which is all very noble and great in theory, the practice is now massively overstretched and we’re all suffering because of that - patients and staff."

Another said: "Yes they chose to take on the extra patients, even when these concerns were raised at the consultation stage of the Wollaston merge, I remember being told they would be able to manage, and had plans in place to increase phone lines, appointment bookings, etc. Obviously they said that but haven't delivered."

And another added: "It is very hard to get an appointment as it’s now way too big, however, once you do get in you can’t fault them."

Many, however, have backed the surgery for highlighting the pressures and one commenter said: "They actually do a brilliant job given the circumstances."

Another added: "They do a great job. People take things for granted!"

And another said: "Great surgery can’t fault it! People’s education in maintaining their own health needs to improve to help reduce pressures on both gps and a&e services!"