The GP crisis facing southern Scotland

  • Report by James Mahon

The NHS in Dumfries and Galloway says they have a staffing crisis in nursing, social care and general practice.

GPs have become the latest casualty of the crisis, with with some of the team at the Mill Hill Centre in Kelloholm set to pull out in May 2022, leaving many patients in the area unsure as to how they will access healthcare in the future.

Colin Smyth, MSP, "The shortage of GPs in the area is not a new problem it predates Covid, but the pandemic pressures do mean that is coming back to haunt us. It causes frustrations amongst GPs who have to make decisions like this and also causes frustrations amongst patients who are in touch with me all the time about issues, such as not being able to make face to face appointments."

ITV News hasn't been told why the GPs are leaving or where they are going but patients are unhappy that the local surgery is closing, including Jane Harrison who relies on the centre for support. She cares for her sister-in-law who has special needs.

Speaking to ITV News she said, "How do we get prescriptions done? Not everyone is on Facebook, flip phones mostly for people here, we all have something wrong with us, so how do we get help?"

A significant number of the clinic's patients don't drive and it costs between £12 and £15 for a round trip to the nearest health centre in Sanquhar.

David McKie, Taxi Driver, "Since Covid broke out we have been taking more and more down to Sanquhar as there were no GPs here at all, so if this closes there will be more and more people relying on taxis to get to Sanquhar."

NHS Dumfries and Galloway officials say they are hoping to find replacements for the outgoing GPs as soon as possible.

Jeff Ace, Chief Executive NHS Dumfries and Galloway said, "The solution is to ask another GP practice to take this service on, that can take some time, in the meantime we will run services ourselves as a health board and hopefully people won't see any significant change or disruption to the primary care services they receive in Sanquhar and Kelloholm."

NHS D&G have set up recruitment events throughout November, in an attempt to solve the staff shortage.