The Scottish Government has been urged to get a grip of a growing GP crisis which has left several Fife practices “vulnerable”.
A shortage of family doctors has forced one medical group to close its list to new patients and two others have been described as being in a high risk situation.
In total, 11 practices across the region are struggling to recruit.
The revelation follows a sudden decision to close out-of-hours GP services in St Andrews, Glenrothes and Dunfermline and centralise consultations at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy between midnight and 8am.
Fife Health and Social Care Partnership said the three-month contingency measure was needed as the number of doctors prepared to operate the service was too low to ensure patient safety.
Labour MSPs claimed the overnight situation was no surprise given the fact so many practices were struggling during the day.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker said the Scottish Government must accept some responsibility for the out-of-hours closures.
“I have been raising these concerns for some time and have been warning that the Government’s failure to address these shortages would have consequences for patients in Fife,” she said.
A confidential document dated April 1, seen by The Courier, shows Inverkeithing Medical Group has closed its list and employed a practice pharmacist and advanced nurse practitioners as an alternative to GPs as 15 sessions of clinical time is vacant.
In Kirkcaldy, Dr Morris & Partners has lost two GPs and has only been able to secure sporadic locum cover. It is said to be in a high risk situation.
Also described as high risk is Lochgelly Medical Practice, which has two GP vacancies.
Shortages at Primrose Lane Medical Centre in Rosyth means the practice remains “fragile”, according to the document, while the town’s Park Road Practice is “vulnerable”.
Gaps have also been recorded at North Glen and Cos Lane, Glenrothes; Kennoway Medical Group; Howe of Fife, Ladybank; and Methilhaven, Methil.
MSP Alex Rowley said: “There is a massive issue they need to get to grips with.
“All practices are under pressure as more and more GPs reach the age of retirement.”
Mr Rowley said he feared a consultation on the longer-term future of out-of-hours services, due to start next month, had been prompted by the staffing crisis rather than from a desire to improve services.
It is believed the preferred option to take to the public involves a centralised urgent care hub incorporating GPs, nurses, paediatric specialists, paramedics and pharmacists.
Health minister Shona Robison acknowledged there were “significant issues” with GP recruitment and retention in Fife but said the new GP contract and £110 million investment in primary care this year alone would make a difference.
“The workforce plan published recently has a commitment to an additional 800 GPs over the next 10 years,” she said.