Overwhelmed doctor surgeries across Tayside were forced to close as health chiefs battle back against coronavirus.
Queues of patients were turned away by staff wearing facemasks at the Glover Street Medical Centre in Perth on Monday morning.
A notice in the window said the centre was closed – with telephone consultations only – by order of NHS Tayside.
NHS Tayside Medical Director Professor Peter Stonebridge said last night: “In line with Health Protection Scotland advice, NHS Tayside is supporting practices to manage the increase in workload that is expected with coronovirus Covid-19.
“Tayside GP practices agreed to stop open access, which allows patients to turn up to a surgery without an appointment, to protect patients and staff.”
He said: “General Practice has introduced new arrangements where, in the first instance, patients will be reviewed by practice staff via telephone. Then if they need to be seen by a GP, they will be given a time to go to their surgery.”
Prof Stonebridge added: “GP practices are advising patients of the new arrangements which means people must call their practices first.
“All patients should be reassured that they will still have access to the care they require.”
Earlier on Monday, Atholl Medical Centre in Pitlochry posted on social media: “As per NHS Tayside, the practice is now closed until further notice. Please do not attend the surgery unless instructed to do so by a clinician.”
A spokesman said all routine appointments were cancelled. “For anyone with an emergency, you can still call the practice, but you will be given a call back by a clinician and given advice over the phone.”
Similar but differently worded messages were issued by other health centres.
Perth City Medical Centre said: “As of March 16 and until further notice, we respectfully ask that patients do not come into the surgery – please call for queries instead. Do not attend any appointment you have booked until we call you to discuss new arrangements. Prescriptions can be sent to chemists.”
Doctors at Carse Medical Practice in Errol also issued a statement: “We and all other local practices are moving to deliver a same day service so no appointments to see a doctor or a nurse can be booked in advance.”
Patients attending at Brechin Medical Practice were met with locked doors yesterday morning and a sign saying do not enter and to call the GP instead.
The Lour Road Group Practice in Forfar has also printed a note saying its doors will be locked to patients, with individuals told to call ahead.
Hillbank Health Centre in Constitution Street, Dundee and Westgate Medical Practice, on Dundee’s Charleston Drive, both announced emergency measures.
From Tuesday, the Tayview Medical Practice will also adopt similar steps.
While urging patients not to stockpile medication, staff at the Loch Leven Health Centre confirmed over-the-phone consultations.
“The coronovirus outbreak has led to all GP practices taking exceptional measures,” a spokesperson said. “These measures are aimed at enabling us to cope with the anticipated rise in the number of cases of coronavirus, whilst also continuing to provide care to those with other acute conditions.”
NHS Tayside was asked for comment.