Thousands face uncertainty after GP surgery hands back contract
A MEDICAL surgery serving thousands of families throughout the Capital is the latest practice to hand back control to NHS Lothian as the GP recruitment crisis takes hold.
East Craigs Medical Practice, which has about 7,780 people on the books, has insufficient GP partners to manage the practice and look after its patients and will be taken over by Glasgow-based Barclay Medical Group from this Friday.
It is now the 11th practice that NHS Lothian has had to take back the reigns from while a patient list has been closed.
Miles Briggs, Lothian MSP and Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, has urged the government to invest now in the crucial GP services.
He said: “The news about the East Craigs Practice is very alarming and simply underlines the huge pressure on GP services in Edinburgh and across Lothian.
“The SNP were specifically warned about the problems of recruitment and retention faced by this, and many other, GP practices in Scotland.
“Sadly, the SNP has done nothing and the problems are only getting worse. This is bad for our struggling GPs, simply trying to do the best they can, but bodes far worse for the future of patient care.
“We are facing a shortfall of 856 GPs in Scotland and Ministers need to address this as a matter of urgency.”
The list at East Craigs was closed to new patients last month to meet the demand with the reduced GP numbers at the practice due to the national recruitment crisis.
Margaret Watt, the chair of the Scottish Patients Association, said: “The patients are not happy with what is going on at the moment.
“We have seen an increase in population met with a restriction in accepting new patients. The government has promised £500 million by 2021, but the issue is now.
“We need fresh blood in our government who have new ideas for a way we can take our GPs and NHS collectively forward in the future.”
Last year in Scotland there were 52 ‘2C’ practices – the term given to practices that return their contract to the local health board. It is the highest figure on record, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners, and affects 160,000 patients.
Mark Brown, councillor for Drumbrae/Gyle, said: “It is very disappointing to learn that the beleaguered GPs at East Craigs have been forced into this difficult decision and it remains to be seen just what impact this will have on its busy patient book.
“Communities such as those in my ward are now facing up to the harsh realities of the SNP’s decade of starving general practices of much needed cash.”
Dr Tracey Gillies, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “Patients should be reassured that these arrangements will provide continuity for all patients registered with the practice.
“Most of the current practice staff will simply transfer over to the new management.”