Control of Methil’s new doctors’ surgery at the docklands is being given to NHS Fife, as the service tries to cope with a growing GP crisis.
It’s been reported nationally that over one third of GPs in Fife are struggling cope with their workloads and there has been a fall-off in recruitment, because not enough GPs are being trained.
Patients should be assured that the practice currently has locum cover in place and will continue to operate normally
The Cannons practice at Ajax Way in Methil – which only opened in late 2012 – will be handing over the running of its services to NHS Fife in November, after failing to recruit the two GP principals it needs.
Bosses at the surgery declined to comment, but Dr Frances Elliot, NHS Fife’s medical director, told the Mail: “Despite this, patients should be assured that the practice currently has locum cover in place and will continue to operate normally.”
Dr Elliot admitted that, “in common with many other parts of the country”, some medical practices in Fife had experienced difficulty in recruiting permanent general practitioners to their practice teams.
“We have, however, seen a number of practices, including those in Auchtermuchty, Burntisland, Cowdenbeath and Newburgh, among others, having made appointments over recent weeks and months,” she added.
“Medical practices are independent contractors and are ultimately responsible for their own recruitment.
“However, as a board, we are committed to providing the necessary support to ensure practices can continue to offer the best quality care and treatment to patients in Fife.”
Claims have been made nationally by politicians and others in recent months of a GP crisis, with Kennoway’s surgery also struggling to recruit.
Frustrations in Methil were highlighted recently by Dr Michael Ward, from the Methilhaven Surgery, in a letter to the East Fife Mail.
Referring to the Cannons’ “inability” to recruit further GPs, he said “the one GP who tried to soldier on has reluctantly handed her practice back to the Health Board”.
He added the downturn in GP recruitment “will have major social implicatons for the health of this country if it deterioriates further.”
Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Claire Baker has echoed calls for action from the Scottish Government.
“The warning signs of a crisis in general practice has been growing for some time and the repeated failures to find two full-time GPs for Methil will be a major cause of concern for locals and patients at the surgery,” she said .
“The impact the GP crisis has on the wider health service in Fife must also be taken into account. If locals are unable to see a local doctor, they will head to A&E, creating a potential increase in waiting times and pressures on already over-worked and under-resourced staff.”
Shona Robison, Scottish Health Secretary, said: “The Scottish Government is determined go on supporting and sustaining Scottish general practice. Under this Government, spending on GP services has increased by £88.7m, or nearly 13 per cent. In June, we also announced an additional £60m for GP and primary care services – through our Primary Care Transformation Fund – which is being allocated to projects to reduce GP workload and give GPs the time to test new ways of working. The difficulty in recruiting GPs is not an issue unique to Scotland, but this Government’s investment in primary care has seen the number of GPs increase by seven per cent. We’re working with health boards and the medical profession to develop short-term recruitment initiatives.”