Sick people are resorting to waiting outside GP surgeries in the early hours to get an appointment, The Courier can reveal.
In a stark symptom of GP shortages, Tayside and Fife patients have been spotted queuing up from 7am to see a family doctor.
A senior Dundee GP confirmed the phenomenon is widespread because of a mismatch” between patient demand and doctor numbers.
Shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said it is “fundamentally wrong” people in her Kirkcaldy constituency and beyond are being forced to camp out before sunrise.
“People are physically standing, queuing outside GP surgeries at 7am to get appointments in Fife,” she said.
“When I talk to other MPs in constituencies across the country they say that’s the same.”
Queues have been seen outside the Broughty Ferry Health Centre in Brown Street and the Leven Health Centre in Victoria Road.
Dr Andrew Cowie, a Dundee GP and the vice-chairman of the local medical committee, said queuing for appointments is common in Tayside.
“There is undoubtedly a mismatch between patient demand and GP numbers,” he said.
“The queues are, unfortunately, for appointments – though there are issues with registrations.”
He said Tayside has suffered “severe difficulties in GP recruitment and retention”, in line with the rest of the country.
Dr Cowie said people come to his practice in Hawkhill before opening hours, although they are let in to shelter from the elements.
He added there is a “glimmer of hope” in that a new contract should encourage young doctors to become GPs.
In Fife, at least 14 surgeries have encountered serious difficulties over the summer in recruiting GPs, leading to 19 practices in the kingdom having full patient lists.
Dr Seonaid McCallum, from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, said there is a GP shortage in Fife.
“Despite this national shortage, Fife remains proactive in efforts to reduce vacancy numbers and is taking forward a range of initiatives,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Broughty Ferry Health Centre, where queues are regularly seen, said it is down to patients whether they choose to queue for an appointment or phone the practice.
She said: “It is the patient’s choice. We have sufficient appointments that are available by pre-booking or on the day so patients can choose to phone or queue in the morning.”