The Department of Health has not yet approved the opening of a Kingston GP group’s new branch surgery - two months after the cooperation and competition panel said it should go ahead.

In December the panel concluded that a decision made by NHS Kingston not to allow a GP practice, Churchill Medical Centre, to open a new branch surgery was inconsistent with principles and rules for cooperation and competition.

Unfortunately, it is not simply a case of accepting the cooperation and competition panel recommendations

Following a six month investigation, it recommended that the DH and NHS London give the go-ahead for the surgery to open.

But in a letter to the practice, Jonathan Tringham from the DH customer service centre said: “The department understands your concerns and empathises with your views on what could be perceived as another tier in the resolution of your case.”

But Mr Tringham said the panel has no statutory right to make decisions.

He said: “Unfortunately, it is not simply a case of accepting the cooperation and competition panel recommendations without the DH first considering the impact on the broader policy and regulatory framework and the wider NHS.”

He said a further period of investigation was inevitable.

NHS London is separately reviewing how the surgery could affect the local health economy.

A spokeswoman for the strategic health authority said: “NHS London is still considering the implications of the cooperation and competition panel decision alongside the Department of Health. We recognise the need for expedience in this case because of the impact on the many patients that could be benefiting from the services. A decision is expected shortly.”