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The reduction in GP practice numbers in Tayside is, in part, the result of practice mergers since 2009. Mergers can prevent practices, particularly small or single-handed ones, from closing, by reducing risk and increasing resilience. In addition, three practices have closed in Tayside since 2009. Bridge of Earn, Ardler and Stobswell were all small independent practices.
The Government has put a number of measures in place to support GP practices; I am happy to ensure that Mr Fraser has details of those measures.
I have been contacted by a constituent in Perth who expressed concern about the times that they have to wait to get a GP appointment. The situation has been made much worse recently, following the closure of the GP practice in Bridge of Earn and the allocation—without any consultation—of hundreds of extra patients to the lists of city GP practices.
What more can the Scottish Government do to assist with the situation?
As Mr Fraser and I know, the Bridge of Earn practice closure was—this is probably the best way to describe it—not well handled. We have raised the matter directly with NHS Tayside, to ensure that there is no repetition of that.
I think that we have also been in contact with the GPs from the practice and the practice to which patients have been reallocated, and we have offered to hear from them whether there are additional measures that we could offer and which they would find useful in enabling them to accommodate the additional patients.
The final point is that, as Mr Fraser knows, the issue of primary care and GP practices is not just about GP numbers; it is about the whole multidisciplinary team. I am pleased to say that, across NHS Tayside, including in Perth, we have seen a significant increase in the number of multidisciplinary teams. Those teams use the professional skills of advanced nurse practitioners, pharmacists and pharmacist assistants, and physiotherapists. There is more to do, and I am happy to take any specific suggestions Mr Fraser might have with respect to the specific GP practice that he referred to.