As the member is aware, GP practices are run by independent contractors, which must have arrangements in place that operate in accordance with section 15 of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011. In the first instance, patients should raise their concerns with the GP practice manager, which allows concerns to be addressed at the level at which they can be most easily remedied.
If patients are not satisfied with the practice manager’s response, they can go to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman for consideration. If patients have concerns about how their health board is providing GP services, they can raise a complaint through the national health service complaints handling procedure.
I have been inundated with concerns from constituents in Moffat and Lockerbie who are struggling to access GP appointments. They report that there are frequently times when no GP is available to see anyone face to face and that they offered telephone consultations only, which forces people towards accident and emergency departments. I and other local representatives, including the chair of Lockerbie community council, who is in the public gallery, have raised concerns with the health board, but it refuses to intervene. What can be done?
I thank Oliver Mundell for raising the issue. For the sake of brevity, I will take the discussion offline and get more detail from him, if he is able to provide it. I will ensure that my officials are in touch with NHS Dumfries and Galloway to discuss how it will support the practices to improve patients’ experience.
When it is clinically necessary, we expect people to get a face-to-face appointment. It might be that people are not seen by a GP because it is more appropriate for them to be seen by another staff member of the practice. Nonetheless, Oliver Mundell has raised some serious concerns, so I will get more detail from him offline and revert back to him on what we can do to support his constituents.