NHS Tayside has confirmed Ryehill Medical Practice will terminate its contract to provide GP services later this year — but what are the options for patients?
Primary care services in Scotland are normally delivered by doctors who act as independent contractors and run primary care practices on behalf of local NHS health boards.
Although some practices are owned and operated directly by NHS Tayside, such as Maryfield Health Centre, the vast majority are run “independently” in Dundee.
It means groups of doctors are paid by the NHS to provide certain services to patients, but a national shortage of GPs in Scotland has meant some practices have been unable to recruit new partners after existing medics retire or leave the profession.
This is the reason those who run Ryehill Medical Practice have given for terminating their contract.
What will happen to patients at Ryehill Medical Practice?
NHS Tayside has said it will work closely with Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership to ensure that patients can access local GP and primary care services from July 1.
“Patients at the practice will be receiving a letter in the next few days to explain the next steps.
“When a practice gives notice to stop providing services, NHS Tayside has to ensure that patients have continued access to a GP,” a spokesperson said.
The health board will consider how best to provide GP services for these patients and this could include closing the practice completely and transferring patients to neighbouring health centres.
Alternatively, they could decide to take over management of the practice and run it directly. Of the 64 GP practices in Tayside, four are run in this way.
What have local politicians said?
Councillor Richard McReady, who represents Dundee’s West End, said that no one should be disadvantaged whatever by the final decision.
“No patient at Ryehill should be see any difference in the care that they receive. I want NHS Tayside to guarantee that no one will miss out due to this closure,” he said.
The councillor told The Courier that he wanted NHS Tayside to look closely at taking over the practice.
“If that is not possible, I want to know what the impact on other local GP practices would be if the patients are transferred to other practices.
“NHS Tayside needs to be open and transparent about the future of GP services in the West End of Dundee.
“Patients whom I have spoken to are appalled at the news of the closure of the practice.
“I am looking for more information from them as a matter of urgency.”