NEWPORT residents handed in a petition yesterday signed by 650 people against the closure of the Malpas Medical Centre.

Local residents Stuart Cliffe, 63 and Mo Dockings, 62, handed in the petition on behalf of locals to Newport West assembly member, Rosemary Butler.

Ms Butler will hand in the petition to Aneurin Bevan Health Board today.

The medical centre on Malpas Road will close next month following the retirement last autumn of Dr Satish Jethwa who ran the practice single-handedly.

It has since been staffed by locum family doctors provided through the health board.

Almost 2,200 patients of the medical centre practice will transfer to Malpas Brook practice following the closure or be helped to find an alternative surgery.

People who have signed the petition include patients of the surgery as well as patients of other surgeries who are worried about their waiting times for appointments being increased if more patients join their surgery.

Ms Dockings, who has been a patient at Malpas Medical Centre for more than 31 years, said: "In four days we had collected 600 signatures. It shows how strongly people are against it.

"This is a deprived area and 60 per cent of the patients are pensioners. We need the local surgery."

Ms Butler said: "I will be meeting with the health board and expressing all the concerns raised."

The Argus reported earlier this month how the health board had said they were unable to appoint a practice to run the medical centre as a branch surgery but had secured agreement with a neighbouring practice to offer services to the existing patients of the medical centre.

A spokesman said: "The health board will continue to offer our full support to all patients as we move through this period of transition."