The Department of Health has sanctioned the opening of a branch surgery at the centre of a long running dispute between NHS Kingston and local GPs.

The cooperation and competition panel concluded in December that a decision made by the primary care trust not to allow the Churchill Medical Centre to open a new branch surgery was inconsistent with principles and rules for cooperation and competition.

Despite the ruling, the Department of Health said it needed to carry out its own investigation into the case before the GP practice could proceed with the planned branch surgery and also asked NHS London to carry out a separate review.

In a letter to NHS Kingston dated 30 March, health minister Mike O’Brien said that having “undertaken further detailed analysis” the DH agreed with the panel’s ruling.

Churchill senior practice partner Charles Alessi said: “We are encouraged by the fact that the secretary of state has accepted the recommendations of the competition panel in full and now hope that NHS Kingston move quickly to allow our population the access to healthcare they deserve and thus allow us to open.”