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South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has raised concerns over the growing GP crisis in Dumfries and Galloway after it was revealed that more practices were closing their lists to new patients.

Following a Freedom of Information request, NHS Dumfries and Galloway revealed that registration at the following practises were closed to new patients:

Name of Practice/Code

Date of Restriction

Restriction Type

St Michaels Dumfries Y18273

17.10.16

Closed List

Church Pl Moffat Y18381

28.09.17

Closed List

Lochree Stranraer Y18095

18.01.18

Closed List

Charotte Medical, Dumfries Y18305

24.01.18

Closed List

 

Every NHS board in Scotland is obliged to provide a patient with a GP, however the restrictions can apply to choice and can mean people do not have access to a doctor in their nearest area.

According to NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s recruitment website there are currently GP vacancies at Lockerbie Medical Practice; Newton Stewart; Charlotte Street Medical Practice, in Dumfries; Castle Douglas Medical Group; Church Place Surgery Moffat; Greencroft Medical Centre; in Annan; Loch Ree in Stranraer; Thornhill; Canonbie and Lochnaw Medical Practice in Stranraer.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The GP crisis facing the region is continuing unabated. The fact GP surgeries are having to close their lists to new patients simply highlights how this is impacting on patients. It is the legacy of the Scottish Government failing to train enough doctors over the past decade and the added burdens placed on GPs which made the role unattractive for many new graduates. This is just the tip of the iceberg with many others struggling to cope with any additions to their patients lists and GP vacancies the length and breadth of Dumfries and Galloway”.

“I know GP practices across the region are working hard to maintain access for patients and had it not been for the good will of GPs often working beyond the call of duty, far more would be forced to close their lists. Those who have had to close their lists only did so as a very last resort. It simply illustrates that the action the Government are taking to tackle the GP crisis is simply not good enough."

“This is not a new problem though. There have been warning signs from medical specialists and local communities to the Government for years. The SNP Government were warned back in 2011 that once it had cut funding to training places it would have a knock-on effect for patients. We are now seeing the full effects of these cuts.”

 

GP SHORTAGE TAKING ITS TOLL AS MORE PRACTICES CLOSE THEIR DOORS

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South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has written to East Ayrshire Council calling on them to explain why almost 90% of people who approached the council as ‘homeless’ were never recorded by the council as officially homeless.

According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC, in East Ayrshire last year 88% of those presenting with homelessness reasons were only recorded as asking for advice. This is higher than any other council in Scotland- twice the level of North Ayrshire and three times higher than South Ayrshire.

The law states that a person has a right to make a homeless application and government guidance says they must always be recorded as such if they have a homelessness reason- even if they are also applying for advice under what is known as "Housing Options". Being recorded as officially homeless ensures the applicant is not missing out on access to temporary accommodation and additional support.

But the FOI figures reveal that in most cases people in East Ayrshire with a homeless reason are only recorded under Housing Options.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “I find it deeply worrying that of all the people who present to East Ayrshire Council as homeless, 88% aren’t being recorded by the council as officially homeless. This is the highest number in Scotland and significantly higher than most other councils”.

“The new system for recording housing problems means that the council can record people as merely asking for advice and thus remove any requirement for them to find shelter for and at the same time miss them off the official homelessness figures”. 

“In some councils everyone who came to the council saying they were homeless were listed as homeless and consequently were helped to find suitable accommodation- both short and long term.

“Given how very different the figures are for East Ayrshire, I am concerned that people who are genuinely homeless may not be getting access to the support and accommodation they need if they aren’t being registered as homeless”.

“Ultimately this is about some of the most vulnerable people in the area asking for help to stop them from sleeping on the streets. From children to the elderly, hundreds of people in the area affected by homelessness through no fault of their own and they need the maximum support.”

HOMELESS BEING TURNED AWAY IN EAST AYRSHIRE

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