Call for action in primary care

Brechin Health Centre
Brechin Health Centre

A North-east MSP has called for action from the Scottish Government to address problems in primary care.

Alex Johnstone, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East Region, put out the call after Brechin and Montrose were impacted by staff shortages.

Brechin Health Centre had reduced GP cover for two days due to shortages, and Montrose Maternity Unit is closed to births until around September for the same reason.

Meanwhile, Angus North and Mearns MSP, Mairi Evans, has highlighted the situation in Brechin to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport - Shona Robison.

Mr Johnstone’s remarks follow the publication of survey results in May that showed only 33% of the 103 Brechin respondents rated the overall arrangements for getting to see a doctor at the centre as very positive or positive - 30% rated it negative and 37% neutral. When it came to rating arrangements for seeing a preferred doctor, over half of the 104 who responded - 57%- rated negative.

Mr Johnstone said: “While the health board is doing all it can to lessen the impact on patients locally, we need action from Scottish Government to address this problem in primary care.

“We are facing a retirement time bomb with as many as one third of GPs retiring in the next five years and a shortage of new entrants.

“The Scottish Conservatives have called for a cross-party strategic plan to secure our NHS, including a new model for primary care which attracts new GPs and keeps them in post.”

When announcing the two day reduced cover NHS Tayside said that GP recruitment and retention is “a national problem”, but that they were working hard to recruit GPs for Brechin.

Miss Evans also highlighted the recruitment problem, commenting: “I know that NHS Tayside are doing everything they can to resolve this incredibly challenging situation and are working hard to recruit GPs to the health centre. While GP recruitment is a national problem, it is a very particular and urgent problem in Brechin where we are amongst the hardest hit.

“I have contacted the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, to highlight the serious situation that we are facing in Brechin and will certainly be doing everything within my power to support the recruitment and retention of GPs in this area.”