Residents in the Tay Bridgehead have aired concerns about their ability to access GP services after a local practice revealed plans to drastically cut opening hours.
Doctors at the Tayview Medical Practice say they have been forced to take the “difficult decision” to reduce hours at its Tayport branch from Monday June 3 onwards due to a lack of adequate cover.
The decision will mean appointments there will only be available between 8am and noon from Monday to Friday, meaning those patients who need to see a doctor outside those times will have to travel to the Newport-on-Tay surgery.
That has prompted a backlash from many residents who fear the shift to part-time hours will impact on the most vulnerable in society.
Local SNP councillor Bill Connor and Derek Gray, chair of the Tayport Ferryport-on-Craig Community Council, say they have been inundated by comment from residents who are anxious about the plans and have called for GPs to get the support they need.
“This is really concerning for many people especially those who are elderly, people with young children and those without access to their own transport,” Mr Connor said.
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Practice business manager David Ramsay said the decision had not been taken lightly but was necessary to ensure a sustainable GP service while taking into account patient and staff safety.
“As a practice providing services across two locations (Newport and Tayport), we are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain services at our Tayport practice,” he explained.
“This is especially difficult in the later part of the day when there has often been no GP coverage available for our Tayport site.
“This results in our staff working alone at Tayport which is an unsustainable position for our staff who we have a duty of care to ensure their personal safety is assured.
“Furthermore, the practice currently has a reduction in GP appointments which equates to one full time GP. This will be compounded further from September 2019 with the retirement of another full time GP.
“Unfortunately, despite repeated requests for locum assistance, the practice is finding it increasingly challenging to fill the reduction in GP appointments.”
Mr Ramsay added the practice’s doctors were grateful to the patient population for their understanding over the issue, but North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie said people were “rightly angry” about what is planned.
“It has been difficult for the doctors and staff at Tayview Medical Practice to cope with the shortage of GPs which is a nationwide problem,” he said.
“The British Medical Association have predicted for some time that the country will be 800 GPs short by 2021 and the shortages are really beginning to bite now.
“It’s been caused by a failure to train enough GPs combined with many GPs going part time or retiring. As a result, it is hitting patient services on the frontline. It is simply not good enough.”