Edinburgh GPs: MSP calls for talks on way forward after plans for new Liberton practice put on hold
A medical practice for up to 10,000 patients was due to be a key part of the new complex on the site, where construction is due to start next month. But a funding freeze has put the surgery plans on hold while the rest of the development will go ahead. Now Tory Miles Briggs has written to NHS Lothian chief executive Calum Campbell, urging him to convene a cross-party meeting with the relevant organisations to discuss a way forward.
A meeting of Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB), which oversees health and social care in the Capital, was told last week that a strategic business case for the new practice was not submitted for approval because NHS Lothian had paused all capital commitments. Major new housing developments recently completed, currently under construction and still in the pipeline mean there is huge pressure on existing GP services in the area and five practices have closed their lists to new patients.
In his letter, Mr Briggs calls the pause “deeply troubling” and stresses how important the planned extra capacity was for people in the area. He wrote: “The suspension of these plans is a distressing prospect, considering the already stretched NHS resources and vast backlogs being experienced. This issue is compounded by the fact that the large-scale housebuilding in the area will continue. I further understand that the Scottish Government is yet to approve the nearby expansion of capacity at Gilmerton, and that no fewer than five other local surgeries are closed to new registrations. This is not an unfamiliar situation in Edinburgh. I’m sure you will understand I have received countless complaints of a similar nature and the suspension of this capital commitment will only exacerbate the issue.”
Health boards have been told by the Scottish Government it cannot not progress any capital schemes for the next three years unless work has already started. But the EIJB was told the Liberton project came under a separate freeze on projects because its cost is below the £10m threshold for government funding, meaning the cost falls to NHS Lothian. And with its own capital budget over-committed, NHS Lothian has said it is not considering any new business cases until an internal prioritisation process is completed.
Mr Briggs said: “It is unacceptable that people in Liberton and the surrounding area will not have sufficient access to GP services. There have been calls for a new GP practice in the area for the last eight years and with a growing population we are in bad need of a new practice. I am concerned that the new practice has been put on hold when the ideal site is available and there is high demand for the service.
“SNP and Green Minister have failed to properly resource health boards and GP practices which has led to this situation. If we don’t see urgent action from SNP and Green Ministers then people in Liberton and the surrounding area will be without sufficient primary healthcare service, which cannot be allowed to happen.”