HUNDREDS of residents packed a public meeting to protest about proposals to move GP services out of Gresford.

They voiced their concerns to health officials and local councillors at Gresford Trust Memorial Hall over Alyn Family Doctors' plan to transfer services from Gresford Health Centre to its other centres in Llay and Rossett.

Residents fear their health needs will not be met by a revamped service and they may not receive prompt treatment if they have to travel for appointments.

Around 300 people attended Thursday's meeting.

Alyn Family Doctors is contracted to provide GP services in Gresford, Rossett and Llay by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, whose area director for North East Wales Rob Smith stressed no formal application had been made yet to change the way services are delivered across the three villages.

But some residents suspect in the long-term that all GP services could be relocated to one "super health centre" in Llay.

Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM LLyr Gruffydd, who attended the meeting, said: "New health centres are not the silver bullet they are meant to be. I was in one where the GPs were tearing their hair out because of the way it is funded and some are retiring because they don't want to take on new contracts.

"You can point to shiny new buildings but for local people it means more centralised services - three does not go into one."

The meeting was organised by local councillors Russell Gilmartin and Andrew Wilkinson, who noted: "The doctors at the practice are not here this evening and we are bitterly disappointed about that. We feel this is the beginning of having everything in one big super health centre in Llay."

Resident Peter Holland questioned why the most populated of the villages served by Alyn Family Doctors could potentially lose out.

And Gareth Pritchard declared: "If there is an attempt to move the practice I will personally fund a judicial review to stop it."

While Alyn Family Doctors was not represented at the meeting, its practice manager Sue Roberts has said in a letter to residents that "hard choices and changes" have to be made because of problems with manpower across three sites.

A former member of staff at the practice, who declined to be named, told the meeting: "There is a major problem with GP recruitment. Working in three buildings was an absolute nightmare.

"But the suggestion there is a new building (in Llay) coming in the future is a red herring as there is no money."

The health board has said it will review how future changes will affect the ability of Gresford residents to travel for appointments and believes there could be potential improvements with increased opening hours.

Its area director Rob Smith added: "We will have to sign off the eventual decision on whether Gresford is closed which is why we are listening to residents."

The consultation period ends today (May 14).