Scottish MSPs protest closure of three practices

According to The Courier, MSPs in Scotland have joined forces to rally against the closure of three GP surgeries

Health chiefs in Fife are planning to cut out-of-hours GP access, but cross-party MSPs have come together to protest the idea.

A Scottish Parliament debate was led by the SNP’s Jenny Gilruth earlier this week, in which she damned proposals from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership that would seek to limit GP access yet further.

Murdo Fraser, the Tory MSP, called for the cap on university places for Scottish medical students to be lifted, adding that doctor shortages must be taken more seriously.

All of Fife’s out-of-hours GP services have been moved to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, forcing those previously treated in St Andrews, Dunfermline or Glenrothes to undertake long journeys.

The suspension of these services was only meant to last three months from April 2018 – but it remains ongoing. By December, health chiefs should have decided whether the change will be permanent or not.

Gilruth said: “My constituents fear they will be unable to afford the taxi fare to Kirkcaldy in the early hours if they need it.

“Even worse than that, the transport system which does exist requires patients to ask for financial help if they can’t afford a taxi. That is completely undignified.”

Fraser added: “We simply don’t have enough GPs available to fill the vacancies right across the country and I think there is an issue here for the Scottish Government to address in terms of better workforce planning.

“And in particular should we be capping the number of university places available for Scottish-domiciled medical students when we have this demand for more doctors?”

Willie Rennie, the North East Fife MSP, said even St Andrews academics could not understand the consultation for the proposed changes.

“I have had several of them come to me saying, ‘look I have got two, sometimes three degrees and I’ve found it difficult to complete the consultation document’,” Rennie said.

Joe FitzPatrick, the Public Health Minister, said: “The Scottish Government has been very clear that we expect NHS boards and health and social care partnerships to ensure the delivery of safe and sustainable services across the locality they serve.”

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