Patients’ petition plea to Save Southside GP surgery

MSPs Miles Briggs and Ruth Davidson with patient Denise Palmer who has collected 1000-plus names on a petition to save under-threat Southside surgery. 
 Picture Ian Rutherford

MSPs Miles Briggs and Ruth Davidson with patient Denise Palmer who has collected 1000-plus names on a petition to save under-threat Southside surgery. Picture Ian Rutherford

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PATIENTS have launched a campaign to save a city surgery threatened with closure because of a GP shortage.

More than 5000 people face having to find a new doctor if the Southside surgery in Newington shuts.

Now one patient, Denise Palmer, has started a fightback, presenting a petition with 1208 signatures to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Lothian MSP Miles Briggs, who plan to take it to Lothian NHS chiefs.

Mrs Palmer, who runs PJ’s barber shop in St Leonard’s Street, said: “The surgery has been here for 40 years. There is a massive shortage of GP surgeries on the Southside, but there are four separate sites where there is going to be new student accommodation. There are a lot of elderly people in the area too. We really need more GP surgeries, not fewer.

“The people at the surgery – from the doctors to the cleaners – are all absolutely amazing, very caring and understanding.”

Mrs Palmer got customers to sign her petition, sat with it in the surgery so patients could sign it and took it round the doors. “I’m determined to get this sorted,” she said.

The Evening News revealed in July that the practice faced possible closure following failed attempts to recruit two new GP partners.

A letter sent to patients by the remaining GPs, Dr Eileen Sanderson and Dr Alyson Reive, said the surgery building would have to be sold by next summer as it is part-owned by two GPs who have retired.

The letter added: “If, as is likely, no other location can be found, then Lothian Health Board plan to close the practice entirely and disperse our patients to other surgeries in the area.”

Ruth Davidson, who is MSP for Edinburgh Central, visited Southside surgery last month and issued a call for at least 10 per cent of all health cash to be directed to GPs by 2020.

Today she praised the patients’ campaign to save the practice. She said: “There are genuine concerns that, with the building going next year, a new home won’t be found. Thousands of patients could be spread around the city. This is a practice that has served the Southside well and deserves to be looked after.”

Mr Briggs said the pressures on GP services was particularly severe in Lothian, with one half of GP practices soon expected to stop accepting new patients.

“Local residents are increasingly concerned about the situation and the impact it is having on local health services.”

Rob McCulloch Graham, chief officer of Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The Southside surgery practice has experienced difficulties in recruitment and retention of GPs and we have been working closely with them.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com