SNP Councillors Raise Concerns on Healthcare 'Asset Stripping'

>> 28 March 2024

Following recent decisions regarding overnight closures of the Minor Injuries Units at Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Huntly, it has now also emerged that access to some local GP practices is being reduced.

The Central Buchan Medical Practice was recently taken over by the Ayrshire Medical Group, a private company, and they have announced that the GP service at Strichen is being limited to one day per week with patients being forced to travel to Maud or New Pitsligo to see their GP.

Speaking about this cutback, local councillor Geoff Crowson stated that this was simply not good enough, commenting:

“I know there are difficulties regarding GP recruitment for rural areas but this decision has come as a bolt out of the blue for many people. We knew about the change in management but we had been reassured that this would make little difference to the local service. Now we find that this private company, whose purpose it is to make a profit, have decided that local access to GP consultation it to be restricted.

“While I welcome that negotiations with local Health and Social Care Partnership management has led to a half day being restored, following on from the intended overnight closure of our local Minor Injuries Units, I can’t help but feel our rural communities are being treated inequitably.

“These GP contracts should have minimum service level guarantees for local, often isolated communities. What are our elderly and vulnerable folk to do, especially those without access to a car?”

Councillor Crowson’s concerns were echoed by Councillor Seamus Logan who is a member of the Integrated Joint Board (IJB), the body which oversees the work of the Health and Social Care Partnership. He said:

“This is the second service reduction that I have become aware of involving this particular company, the other is in Aberchirder where patients must now travel to Portsoy following a reduction in opening hours in the town.

“We are witnessing the creeping privatisation of our NHS where profit comes before patients. These are local decisions which need to be scrutinised and I intend to raise these issues at the earliest opportunity within the IJB to see if there are any steps we can take to ensure that our GP services are protected against this type of approach.

“Looking at the wider picture, our NHS services are being deliberately starved of resources by the UK Treasury while they favour tax cuts instead of decent public services.”

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