A GROUNDBREAKING Hampshire clinic to help people with Lyme Disease is set to close at the end of May after only six months.

The unique service was set up last summer by expert Matthew Dryden, a consultant microbiologist at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

The clinic at the RHCH has helped some 120 people who have contracted the bacterial infection that spreads to people by infected ticks frequently from animals in woodland.

The disease can have serious consequences affecting skin, joints, heart and nervous system.

The clinic was funded as a pilot by the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but the trust has been unable to agree permanent funding with Public Health England.

Dr Dryden said: “The clinic is closing. Not because funding has been pulled; there never was any funding. The local trust should be congratulated for hosting it.

“There has been a massive demand and a huge national need and it is a huge disappointment that the powers that be have not reached an agreement. I was seeing people from across the UK.”

Dr Dryden said the clinic may re-start but almost certainly not in Winchester.

The South is a hotspot for Lyme Disease because of the number of woods and the increase in housing in the countryside and an increase in number of animals such as deer.

“Lyme Disease is becoming commoner. The South is becoming more crowded, with lots of housing close to rural areas. Conservation is getting better and the amount of wildlife coming into proximity with people is growing," he said.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust referred media inquiries to Dr Dryden.