A GP surgery is to close for six weeks from next month, as Dundee’s doctor recruitment crisis continues to deepen.
Fintry Mill Practice in the city’s north-east has written to patients to tell them they will have to travel to Stobswell due to a lack of staff.
Patients will have to travel to the health centre’s sister practice at Arthurstone Medical Centre for appointments and to collect prescriptions until August 13.
Gordon Bain, general manager, told patients: “We have been actively trying to recruit replacement GPs since October 2017 but to date we have been unsuccessful.
“We believe the situation will not improve in the short to medium term. The increasing workload is so intense we now need to take action to reduce the risks to our staff.
“As a result of these circumstances, we believe the only option to help relieve the pressure is to close Fintry Mill Medical Centre over the period July 2 to August 10 2018.”
Mr Bain said staff were “extremely sorry” for the move, adding: “The situation is out of our hands.”
The practice declined to comment further when approached – but locals shared their frustrations.
Tom Whitton, 61, from Fintry, said: “I’m disappointed. People less able than myself will have difficulty getting down to Arthurstone.”
Coldside resident Hayley Blackley, 29, said: “It does seem ridiculous that older patients are needing to travel that far. I do have sympathy for the staff – it’s poor that the vacancies can’t be filled.”
Dylan Higget, 17, said: “It’ll affect people that can’t get the bus or people who don’t have cars.”
The Tayside Local Medical Committee (LMC), which represents the region’s GPs, confirmed it was aware of the situation.
Dr Andrew Cowie, a Dundee GP and vice-chairman of the LMC, said: “They are not the only ones having problems maintaining services.
“The underlying problem is, of course, the lack of GPs, not just in Dundee but across Scotland and the UK. The situation is frustrating for all concerned, there seems little fix in the short term.”
Fintry Mill’s decision to close comes months after doctors voted to bring in a new GP contract.
The new deal, which began rolling out in April, was designed to encourage more doctors into general practice by relieving them of administrative work and guaranteeing a salary of £80,000.
Earlier this year, a Tele investigation into general practice found a number of surgeries had closed to new registrations due to a lack of new GPs. Several practices have been forced to pay out for “locum” doctors, which can cost thousands of pounds a week.
NHS Tayside is currently advertising several jobs for GPs at local surgeries such as Princes Street, Ancrum Medical Centre and Fintry Mill itself. The health board confirmed it was aware of Fintry Mill’s decision.
A spokeswoman said: “During this temporary closure, alternative arrangements have been put in place to support the patients in the area, and all patients will be seen at the Mill Practice at Arthurstone Medical Centre.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have negotiated a new GP contract to stabilise income, reduce workload, and improve patient care.
“This is backed by £110 million this year, helping doctors spend more time with patients and less on bureaucracy. Our ambition is to increase GP numbers by at least 800 over ten years to ensure a sustainable service that meets increasing demand.”
The Tele also attempted to speak to other GP practices in Dundee about their own situations.
However, none of those we contacted responded to repeated requests for comment.