A FRUSTRATED GP says he would be “only too happy” to take over a closure-threatened Canvey practice – if only the NHS would let him.

The future of Long Road Surgery is in the balance while NHS England considers its options after the death, in June, of GP Umer Suleman-Qureshi.

One option is closure, which would force 2,300 patients to find another GP.

Dr Muhammad Ashar Ayub, who took on the practice on a trial basis last year, says he would gladly continue.

He added: “I have no idea why they have not thought to keep me on. The patients seem happy for me to stay. Closing the surgery would cause so much unnecessary upheaval.

“I am only too happy to take on the practice permanently, but I am nowhere in the options listed by the NHS.

“I would run the practice single- handedly, as it has been run for the past 29 years.”

Scores of worried residents packed the surgery’s waiting room yesterday to meet NHS officials about the practice’s future.

Margaret Fairhall, 73, of Denham Road, Canvey, has been a patient there for 28 years. She said: “Dr Ayub is a superb doctor.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer GP to take over.

“What we can’t get to the bottom of is if Dr Ayub is willing to take it on, what is the point in this whole process? This is what the patients want.”

Almost 600 have already signed a petition calling for the surgery to be saved.

Sylvia Waymark, of the Long Road Surgery Patients Forum, said: “This is a wonderful practice.

The staff are very friendly and you can always get an appointment when you need one.”

Canvey Independent councillor Peter Greig, also a patient, said: “If Dr Ayub wants to stay and the people want him to stay, then surely it’s a no brainer.”

Ian Ross, NHS contract manager for south-east Essex, told patients at the meeting officials would now consider keeping Dr Ayub as a possible option.

He said: “We know emotions are very high and can see from the turnout, people feel passionately about this surgery. We understand how you are feeling, but no decision has yet been made.

“Dr Ayub has been added to the list of options. I would like to reassure you patient care is at the very core of everything we do.”