Patients in two North Devon villages are having to attend GP appointments in community and village halls.

Ruby Country Medical Group, which has taken on the contract for Beech House Shebbear and Hatherleigh Medical Centre, has contacted patients at the two surgeries to inform them it is unable to access the premises, setting up the temporary measures.

The group started running the two surgeries on Monday, taking over after Dr Francis Fernandez retired from the practices. Both had been rated as ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission in March.

The letter from Jane Wells, managing partner at Ruby Country Medical Group, which also manages Holsworthy and Stratton’s medical centres, said patients at the Shebbear surgery are to attend the village hall for treatment for minor illnesses, ongoing problems and services such as blood tests.

Patients in Hatherleigh are required to access the village’s community hall.

In her letter, Ms Wells said: “Following a procurement process we the Ruby Country Medical Group were appointed to take on the running of both surgeries.

“Dr Fernandez owns the current GP premises, and we have been working hard to secure the continued use of the buildings when we take over.

“However it has not been possible to secure agreement to use the premises, so we have had to put in temporary accommodation arrangements to make sure you can continue to see a GP or nurse.”

The letter said the trust was doing ‘everything we can’ to secure new permanent premises, holding ‘detailed discussions’ after identifying alternative sites.

The trust hopes to open a new premises in early Autumn.

Patients have been advised a full range of primary care services are available at Holsworthy Medical Centre.

The two surgeries provide services for nearly 4,000 patients.

The CQC report pubished in March highlighted a member of staff recruited without a Disclosure and Barring Service check, gaps in staff training and medicines being dispensed without signed prescriptions as part of its inadequate rating.

It also cited ‘insufficient leadership’ and a ‘continued theme of inadequate governance processes’.

Despite the overall rating, the commission found patients were treated with compassion, dignity and respect, and clinical staff had been trained to provide effective care and treatment.