Brechin GP shortage impacts open access surgery

Brechin Health Centre
Brechin Health Centre

Angus North and Mearns MSP, Mairi Evans, has made immediate contact with the chief executive of NHS Tayside following news that the open access surgery at Brechin Health Centre has stopped until further notice.

As of today (Thursday) and until further notice, the open access GP clinics at Brechin Health Centre will no longer be available due to a shortage of doctor cover at the GP practice.

NHS Tayside has apologised for this, and patients are advised to telephone the practice on 01356 624411 if they require healthcare.

Mairi Evans said: “I am deeply concerned that the situation with Brechin Health Centre has escalated to the point that the walk in service has had to be withdrawn. We all need to know and be reassured that we have access to health services when we need them and that confidence simply isn’t there at the moment.

“I have made immediate contact with the Chair and Chief Executive of both NHS Tayside and the Integrated Joint Board requesting urgent talks because we simply have to provide a safe and sustainable service. I will continue to do absolutely everything within my power to ensure that anything that can be done to improve this situation is being done and that every possible solution to improve healthcare in Brechin is explored.

“The health centre does not just serve those immediately in Brechin but also a very large outlying area and it is absolutely critical that a safe service can be provided to all living here.”

NHS Tayside has assured that patients who need an appointment or require to be seen on Thursday or Friday will be directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional or service for their needs. GPs will be available at the practice, however, other healthcare professionals may be more suitable to treat your individual needs.

Professor Andrew Russell, Medical Director with NHS Tayside, said: “We are sorry that we have had to withdraw the walk-in clinics at short notice, however, despite the best efforts of staff, it has proved impossible to secure the GP cover needed. The new arrangement will allow us to ensure that all those patients who are assessed and require a consultation with a doctor, will get one.

“There is no change to those services delivered by practice nurses and so those patients who have an appointment at the health centre for Thursday or Friday should attend as it is business as usual for practice nursing services.

“People can also drop off and collect prescription requests at the health centre as usual.

“GP cover at the practice continues to be challenging, especially over the holiday period as it is more difficult to secure locum doctors due to the increased demand for locums across the country.

“We really appreciate the support of the community at this time. We are working hard to put sustainable arrangements in place at Brechin Health Centre over the summer holidays, however, the open access clinics will be withdrawn for the remainder of July and August. We will keep patients informed about any changes to arrangements.

“We are actively recruiting to the vacant posts at Brechin but the situation remains a big challenge and our doctors and nurses are working really hard every day to deliver a safe and sustainable service for the people of Brechin.”

The Minor Injury and Illness Unit in Brechin will be open as normal between the hours of 9am and 4.30pm and people with minor injuries are asked to present directly at the minor injury unit.

Local community pharmacies can also offer advice and treatment for many minor illnesses such as sore throats, coughs, colds and upset stomachs. Repeat prescriptions can be ordered directly at your normal community pharmacy.

Brechin councillor Jim Houston commented: “It is with grave concern that I see that the situation regarding GP services and availability at the Brechin Health Centre continues to deteriorate. I know that steps to provide GP cover have been on-going for some time with limited success. The latest news of the withdrawal of the drop in service to see a GP comes as a shock.

“Although we know that there is a shortage of GPs nationally, it is vitally important that GP services are available to the residents of North Angus and particularly in Brechin. We are working to arrange a meeting as soon as possible to discuss this issue and to look at concrete ways of effectively dealing with this situation so that patient care and safety is not compromised and that an acceptable standard of care is provided.”