As Edinburgh's GP crisis rages, SNP ministers are nowhere to be seen – Ian Murray

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One of the cornerstones of our society is that we have confidence in the founding principles of the NHS: it will be there for us, for free, when we need it.

The frontline of our NHS is our GPs. They, their clinicians and staff teams have been, and are, working incredibly hard to provide a service to their patients. However, they need support from their government.

I make no apology for writing about this again because there is an acute GP crisis in the Lothians that is particularly bad in my own constituency. This is hardly surprising given the Scottish Government insisted that Edinburgh Council deliver tens of thousands of new homes without any regard for the infrastructure to support new and existing communities.

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The Scottish Government has been aware of the problems they’d be facing further down the line for over a decade now. But the situation was cast into sharp relief two-and-a-half years ago when NHS Lothian said, in a report, that GP services would “fail” in south Edinburgh without urgent action from the Scottish Government.

After years of raising this with them and the nowhere-to-be-found Health Secretary, currently Humza Yousaf, still nothing has been done to alleviate the situation. As the local MP, I’ve been working with NHS Lothian and local people to try and identify where a new GP practice could be located, and we have options.

Local communities know what they need, and it’s high time government listened to them. The Gilmerton Gateway site has been given planning permission for its first phase of development into local services. The fly in the ointment, however, is our Scottish Health Secretary who’s unwilling to provide the support required to make it happen. The current position is unsustainable and new homes are still being built at pace – most granted approval on appeal by the very same Scottish Government.

A regrettable consequence of the GP crisis is that many go to A&E at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. It is little wonder, then, that the exhausted A&E department has the worst waiting times in history due to the sheer volume of misplaced patients. Some say this is nothing to do with me as the NHS is completely devolved to the Scottish Parliament. I say it has everything to do with me if it’s affecting my constituents and I will not stop the campaign until we get the infrastructure and services we deserve.

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Other examples are the King’s Theatre, Gorgie Farm and the Filmhouse – three pillars of the Edinburgh cultural and educational community that are under threat of closure or have closed. Many constituents have been in touch to see what I can do, and I will do all I can to help despite them being outside my constituency boundaries.

There is a serious GP crisis in the Lothians (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)There is a serious GP crisis in the Lothians (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
There is a serious GP crisis in the Lothians (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

There’s been virtual radio silence from their own SNP MSP, who also happens to be the Scottish Culture Secretary. Yet again, in power but not in office. What is the point of a government who can’t do what they are supposed to do – provide NHS services and support for local infrastructure?

The people of Edinburgh and Scotland more widely deserve a government that can deliver for them, and a Labour government in Scotland would do just that.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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