South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has urged NHS Dumfries and Galloway to carry out a full consultation on the planned changes for patients at Lockerbie Medical Practice.
Last week it was announced that approximately 1,000 patients would be moved from Lockerbie Medical Practice to Lochmaben Medical Practice. The move comes as a result of the GP recruitment crisis which has made it extremely difficult for the health board to recruit GPs for a number of surgeries across Dumfries and Galloway.
In a letter to the Chief Executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway Colin Smyth said,
“I am seriously concerned at how the decision has been made to move patients between Lockerbie and Lochmaben. A number of constituents have contacted me with concerns over public transport, the waiting times already experienced by patients at Lochmaben Medical Practice and what the future services will look like at both Medical Practices. A number of patients have also contacted me about how they will struggle to attend appointments in Lochmaben and how it will take considerably more time to attend appointments compared to currently attending appointments at the local practice.”
Colin Smyth went on to say,
“I would urge NHS Dumfries and Galloway to hold a full consultation with patients in Lockerbie and Lochmaben over the proposed changes. This will not only help patients to understand the challeges facing local services but will give patients the opportunity to shape their local services. A consultation will also ensure that patients views and concerns can be heard.”
Colin Smyth has also written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport asking for details of the help the Scottish Government will provide to help fix the GP recruitment crisis in the region and support primary care provision in the Lockerbie area.
Commenting on the issue Colin Smyth said, “The Government’s failure to train enough doctors in recent years has led to a GP recruitment crisis which makes it extremely difficult for NHS Dumfries and Galloway to recruit. However, the changes being implemented at Lockerbie Medical Practice have left patients and the wider public with very little information and naturally a number of concerns have been raised with me.
It is disappointing that there was no consultation carried out by the health board prior to the changes being announced and so far information on why certain decisions were made has been limited. As a result many questions remain unanswered. There are also fears that the proposed solution isn’t sustainable in the long term so the health board may need to make further changes to ensure primary care provision is protected in Lockerbie and the surrounding area.
While it should have happened before now, a full consultation with patients will allow their concerns to be raised and addressed. There are a number of legitimate issues that patients have raised with me that the health board must take into account when making changes to healthcare provision.”