A doctors shortage which has impacted on the running of Brechin health centre has been condemned as a sign of a “growing crisis” in the NHS.
Health chiefs have urged Brechin patients not to attend the walk-in surgery at the facility on Thursday and Friday unless they require same day attention.
The move has come because of reduced GP cover resulting from problems in recruiting new doctors after the departure of two practitioners last year – a situation which led to NHS Tayside taking over the running of the Brechin practice.
North East Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “This is yet another sign of the growing crisis that is engulfing our NHS.
“In the past week, we have seen a patient survey showing a postcode lottery across Tayside in terms of accessing a family doctor and reports that there will be no births at Montrose maternity unit until at least September.
“Now Brechin health centre will have reduced cover over the coming days due to difficulties in recruiting GPs.
“While the health board is doing all it can to lessen the impact on patients locally, we need action from Scottish government to address this problem in primary care
“We are facing a retirement time bomb with as many as one third of GPs retiring in the next five years and a shortage of new entrants.
“The Scottish Conservatives have called for a cross-party strategic plan to secure our NHS, including a new model for primary care which attracts new GPs and keeps them in post,” said Mr Johnstone.
Dr Michelle Watts, associate medical director of primary care services for NHS Tayside said: “GP recruitment and retention is a national problem, affecting health boards across Scotland.
“We are working hard to recruit GPs for Brechin to care for the local population as part of our commitment to develop a sustainable and high-quality practice which in turn will attract staff to the area.
“We recognise the difficulties the lack of GP and nurse staffing is having on patients who access our services in Brechin, and are grateful for their support during this challenging period.”
Brechin’s minor injury unit will open as normal between 9am and 4.30pm.
“Local community pharmacies can also offer advice and treatment for many minor illnesses such as sore throats, coughs, colds and upset stomachs. Repeat prescriptions can be ordered directly at your normal community pharmacy,” said NHS Tayside.