A Dundee trade union activist voiced concerns about “growing health inequality” due to a staffing crisis at a city GP surgery.
It appears that Lochee Health Centre, which has been taken over by NHS Tayside after struggling to recruit doctors, is now also facing a shortage of admin staff.
Dundee’s UNISON branch became aware of an e-mail sent out to the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership in a bid to enlist clerical staff from various departments to provide cover for the beleaguered surgery.
Jim McFarlane, secretary for UNISON Dundee, said: “I’m aware that Lochee Health Centre has been short-staffed for a while.
“I certainly know there isn’t full GP coverage and there is also a shortage of clerical and reception staff.
“Recently an e-mail went out to staff in the Health and Social Care Partnership for any admin and clerical workers who might volunteer to work in the surgery to provide cover.
“Obviously there is concern that a basic health community facility in one of the most deprived areas in the city isn’t properly resourced.
“It is reinforcing the health inequalities – recently there were figures that showed Lochee residents’ life expectancy is on average ten years shorter than someone living in Broughty Ferry.
“How can this be overcome without basic health provision, such as a properly staffed health centre?
“It means that people who are already struggling with day to day living are potentially having to travel outside of the area to go to another surgery.”
An NHS spokesperson explained that Lochee Health Centre continues to provide healthcare through locum GPs, community nurses, locality and community pharmacists and a nurse consultant for older people.
The spokesperson said, “Lochee Health Centre was transferred to NHS Tayside at the start of March which means that Lochee Health Centre is managed by NHS Tayside.
“All boards across Scotland continue to face challenges to recruit GPs and NHS Tayside is no exception.
“From time to time due to unplanned staff absence, we seek support from existing staff resources to provide cover during these periods, including administration staff.
“Lochee Health Centre continues to deliver healthcare services to its registered patients.
“These are being provided by a multidisciplinary team, including locum GPs, community nurses, locality and community pharmacists and a nurse consultant for older people based in the practice supporting the Enhanced Community Support team.”