Patients told to change GP over lack of doctors

Despite two rounds of advertising, Leith Links Medical Centre has been unable to find any new GPs. Picture: Toby Williams
Despite two rounds of advertising, Leith Links Medical Centre has been unable to find any new GPs. Picture: Toby Williams
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MORE than 2000 patients are being forced to change their GP because a Leith surgery has been unable to recruit enough doctors to cope with its heavy caseload.

Despite two rounds of advertising, Leith Links Medical Centre has struggled to replace three GPs who left the surgery in recent months.

I think this will be a stressful situation for a lot of people as there was no warning at all

Jim Scanlon

The boundaries for the surgery have now been redrawn by NHS Lothian to reduce the number of people on the rolls from 8300 to 6300, with those affected offered places at nearby practices.

Residents have endured waiting times of up to two weeks at the Leith Links practice, despite locum doctors being brought in to add to the remaining three GPs.

Jim Scanlon, chairman of Leith Links Community Council, said his wife had been told she was moving practice, but he had not – despite registering together 26 years ago.

He said: “I think this will be a stressful situation for a lot of people when they get the letter as there was no warning at all. Lots of people will be wanting to know why they have been chosen to be uprooted.”

There have been long-running concerns over the rising population of the area and whether the local infrastructure can cope, Mr Scanlon added.

The news comes amid reports of a GP “recruitment crisis”, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland, who 
revealed this week that Scotland could face a shortfall of up to 915 GPs by 2020.

Around 21 per cent of the 127 practices in Lothian are already operating with restrictions to their patient lists.

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said: “The news of the GP recruitment crisis’ effect on Leith Links Medical Practice is deeply worrying.

“Here is a long-standing, highly regarded practice of dedicated and successful GPs, in the heart of one of Europe’s most desirable places to live, unable to find new partners.

“Very sadly, this is a crisis evidenced across Scotland.”

David White, assistant general manager for Edinburgh Community Health Partnership, said: “We anticipate this may be distressing for patients who have been with this long-established and well regarded practice for some time. However despite two rounds of advertising, replacement partners cannot be found and in order to continue to offer a safe, sustainable and effective service, the practice has to reduce its boundary area.”

“If patients do not want to move to the practice they have been allocated then they are able to register somewhere else.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com