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‘Being treated like second-class citizens’: Calls for Humza Yousaf to tackle north-east GP shortages

Carden Medical Centre will move 8,600 patients to other surgeries in Aberdeen as it halts GP services next year.

The health secretary has been asked to rectify the handling of GP recruitment following the closure of Carden Medical Centre in Aberdeen.

The doctor’s surgery is to close at the end of January, with all 8,600 patients transferred to other practices in the city, following recruitment challenges.

At portfolio questions at Holyrood, North East MSP Liam Kerr told Health Secretary Humza Yousaf the “government’s failure to carry out workforce planning, to train and recruit GPs, is a disgrace”.

Recruitment problems

Letters sent to patients and elected politicians blamed the upheaval on being “unable to recruit staff to crucial vacancies” leaving the practice “not sustainable or safe” to continue on with locum doctors in the long term.

Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf speaking in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood.

Mr Yousaf said patients would be “automatically registered to a new practice”, highlighting there were “nine practices within a mile radius” of the GP surgery.

Despite the recruitment problems faced by the Aberdeen practice, the health secretary claimed the Scottish Government’s record on staffing was “impeccable”.

Mr Yousaf said: “This government has an impeccable record when it comes to staffing.

“We have a record number of staff in our NHS, that follows many years of consecutive growth.

“What I would say about the decision that was made is one that was made by local partners – the Aberdeen City Health and Social Partnership.

“My understanding is they are working for a smooth transition for all patients that are affected by the closure of Carden Medical Centre.”

‘Complete slap in the face’

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Kerr said the health secretary’s response was a “complete slap in the face” to patients.

He added: “He is totally ignoring the GP crisis facing the north-east, instead giving an utterly vacuous response to something so important to our region.

“Humza Yousaf is treating these patients like second-class citizens and seems quite happy for them to shuffle around to wherever there is space.

The health secretary said Scotland is “on track” to boost the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 by 2027.

“The shortage of GPs in the north-east isn’t a new problem but the pandemic pressures have forced surgeries into an even deeper crisis which the Scottish Government must urgently address.”

Latest figures published on Wednesday show Scotland has a record 5,195 GPs working in Scotland – an increase of 74 on last year.

The health secretary told MSPs the Scottish Government “remains on track” to deliver its commitment to increase the number of GPs working in Scotland by at least 800 by 2027.

The West End practice, close to Aberdeen Grammar School, is run by Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) – with talks over a private, not-for-profit takeover having broken down.

The ACHSCP has been contacted for comment.

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