General Practice Closures (NHS Tayside)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th March 2022.

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Photo of Michael Marra Michael Marra Labour

2. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with NHS Tayside in light of reports of the closure of general practitioner practices. (S6O-00823)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is aware that the Friockheim and Ryehill practices in NHS Tayside will hand back their GP contracts later this year. NHS Tayside is working with the respective health and social care partnerships to consider how best to ensure that general medical services continue to be provided to patients who are registered with the practices once the contracts have been handed back.

Photo of Michael Marra Michael Marra Labour

I wrote, with Councillor Richard McCready, to the cabinet secretary on 15 February about the need to address local people’s concerns about the Ryehill health centre, but I have yet to receive a response. Some 5,300 patients are being thrown into limbo. Can the cabinet secretary give clarity on what will happen next? Where will people get care and when will they know that?

The closure flies in the face of the announcement that the cabinet secretary made in Dundee, just two months ago, about expanding GP provision. What new strategy can the cabinet secretary put in place to tackle declining access to services? What he has done so far is clearly not working.

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

On Michael Marra’s specific point, I will of course look into the issue about the correspondence that he and the local councillor sent to me—I have also had correspondence on the matter from Councillor Bill Campbell—and I will get an official response to him.

The member was absolutely right to ask me about the next steps. If he wishes, after question time I will send him details of who best to contact in the health and social care partnership. In essence, that partnership, alongside the health board, will assess the various options; they are having active discussions with neighbouring general practices to ascertain whether they can take on more patients. They will also see whether any practice has the desire or intention to take over the Ryehill practice. The same goes for the Friockheim practice, which I also mentioned.

When a decision is made on how best to deliver local general medical services, patients will be informed directly.

On the more general point, I can elaborate on that with more detail, but given the time constraints I will just say that this Scottish National Party Government has an excellent record of investing in our GP services, which is probably why we have more GPs per 100,000 people than anywhere else in the UK. In Scotland, we have 95 GPs per 100,000; the number in England is 78 and in Wales it is 76. We will continue to invest in GP services.

On the more specific issue, I am always happy to continue discussions with the member and will ensure that he gets details of the health and social care partnership that is taking the matter forward.

Photo of Sandesh Gulhane Sandesh Gulhane Conservative

On the staffing crisis in NHS Tayside, the British Medical Association in Scotland is highly concerned about consultant vacancies in that health board. A freedom of information response shows that vacancies are significantly higher than the figure that the Scottish Government released.

Despite months of promises to recruit, there has been no improvement. When will the Scottish Government release accurate data and an analysis of the extent of the problem in Tayside? How does it intend to address the serious lapses in workforce planning?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Let me make a few points. First, under this Government we have record staffing levels, and the number of medical and dental consultants has increased considerably.

I met the NHS Tayside chief executive and chair a number of weeks ago and we discussed consultant vacancies, particularly in oncology. We have set up a short-life working group on that.

On our future plans, we will publish our national workforce strategy later this week.