A Kinross-shire doctor has said he fears for the future of health care in the area due to over-development in the region and a lack of facilities and staff.
The GP said a rise in the number of new homes being built, coupled with the closure of the Bridge of Earn practice, had seen patient lists increase by 10% in the area over the last year.
Residents fears over the health care provision in the region were laid bare during a planning meeting on Wednesday where councillors rejected a proposal for a new 67-home development in Milnathort.
A letter from the GP, who asked not to be named, was read out at the talks.
He said: “The closure of Bridge of Earn surgery has added to the list size increase and further developments such as Pitdownies and Ba’ Hill in Milnathort and the retirement village at the site of the Windlestrae hotel will only place both practices under greater pressure.
“This is against the backdrop of a scarcity of general practitioners seeking posts across the United Kingdom and more than 50% of the practitioners in Kinross are over fifty years old and could be reasonably expected to retire in the next 10 years.
“Increasing patient demand also places an increasing strain on the administrative and reception staff of the practices on a daily basis.
“All the other services in the community such as district nurses, health visitors, pharmacists,physiotherapists, podiatrists are struggling with an increasing workload.
“If the current disconnect between planning departments and health services continues the viability of general practice provision in Kinross may well be at risk in the not too distant future.”
Neither NHS Tayside or the Health and Social Care Partnerships raised an objection to the Pitdownies planning proposal application, though they did provide comment.
A report by Perth and Kinross Council officials said NHS Tayside had indicated a potential impact on the local GP practice and have requested a developer contribution to be considered.
It went on: “NHS Tayside and Tayside Health Care and Social Partnership (HCSP) indicate concern over the longer-term sustainability of services in the area.
“They cite that, with an increase of population and service demand over the next few years, accounting for the cumulative impact of other residential development within the catchment, further patient numbers could present difficulties on what is already a busy GP practice in Milnathort.
“They advise that they are considering the possibility of recruitment in the future, to address this issue.”
Gordon Paterson, Chief Officer of Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership said: “The Health and Social Care Partnership is extremely aware of the challenges facing GP practices and Primary Care teams across the whole of Perth and Kinross and are working actively to find ways of enhancing support and resilience in whatever way can safely be done.
“As in other areas of Scotland and the UK, GP recruitment and retention is a significant problem.
“The new GP General Medical Services Contract (2018) sets out to enhance and broaden the primary care team to better utilise the professional skills and experience of the wider multidisciplinary team.”
“Recruitment to these wider teams, including pharmacists, physiotherapists and nurses, is also challenging. Any significant increase in local populations will further increase the pressure on local services including GP practices. The HSCP has sought feedback from local GP practices potentially affected by new planning proposals and the impact that planning might have on local services. This feedback has been shared with Perth and Kinross Council planners in relation to the Milnathort planning application.”