Pa­tients queue up in early hours to see doc­tor

GP short­age leads to peo­ple wait­ing out­side surg­eries in ef­fort to get an ap­point­ment

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Gareth mcpher­son gm­cpher­[email protected]­courier.co.uk

A GP short­age is forc­ing pa­tients to queue in the early hours out­side Fife surg­eries.

Lines of peo­ple start form­ing from 7am as peo­ple es­chew the tra­di­tional phone ap­point­ment lot­tery to grab a scarce meet­ing in per­son.

In Fife, at least 14 surg­eries have en­coun­tered se­ri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties over the sum­mer in re­cruit­ing GPs, lead­ing to 19 prac­tices in the king­dom hav­ing full pa­tient lists.

Dr Seon­aid McCallum, of Fife Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship, said there is a GP short­age in the re­gion.

Dr Miles Mack, of the Royal Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers in Scot­land, said: “GPs have been call­ing for pos­i­tive ac­tion to end this cri­sis since 2013.”

Shadow Scot­tish sec­re­tary Les­ley Laird said it is “fun­da­men­tally wrong” peo­ple in her Kirk­caldy con­stituency and be­yond are be­ing forced to camp out be­fore sun­rise.

Sick peo­ple are re­sort­ing to wait­ing out­side GP surg­eries in the early hours to get an ap­point­ment, The Courier can re­veal.

In a stark symp­tom of GP short­ages, Tay­side and Fife pa­tients have been spot­ted queu­ing up from 7am to see a fam­ily doc­tor.

A se­nior Dundee GP con­firmed the phe­nom­e­non is wide­spread be­cause of a “mis­match” be­tween pa­tient de­mand and doc­tor num­bers.

Shadow Scot­tish sec­re­tary Les­ley Laird said it is “fun­da­men­tally wrong” peo­ple in her Kirk­caldy con­stituency and be­yond are be­ing forced to camp out be­fore sun­rise.

“Peo­ple are phys­i­cally stand­ing, queu­ing out­side GP surg­eries at 7am to get ap­point­ments in Fife,” she said.

“When I talk to other MPs in con­stituen­cies across the coun­try they say that’s the same.”

Queues have been seen out­side the Broughty Ferry Health Cen­tre in Brown Street and the Leven Health Cen­tre in Vic­to­ria Road.

Dr An­drew Cowie, a Dundee GP and the vice-chair­man of the lo­cal med­i­cal com­mit­tee, said queu­ing for ap­point­ments is com­mon in Tay­side.

“There is un­doubt­edly a mis­match be­tween pa­tient de­mand and GP num­bers,” he said.

“The queues are, un­for­tu­nately, for ap­point­ments – though there are is­sues with reg­is­tra­tions.”

He said Tay­side has suf­fered “se­vere dif­fi­cul­ties in GP re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion”, in line with the rest of the coun­try.

Dr Cowie said peo­ple come to his prac­tice in Hawkhill be­fore open­ing hours, although they are let in to shel­ter from the el­e­ments.

He added there is a “glim­mer of hope” in that a new con­tract should en­cour­age young doc­tors to be­come GPs.

In Fife, at least 14 surg­eries have en­coun­tered se­ri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties over the sum­mer in re­cruit­ing GPs, lead­ing to 19 prac­tices in the king­dom hav­ing full pa­tient lists.

Dr Seon­aid McCallum, from Fife Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship, said there is a GP short­age in Fife.

“De­spite this na­tional short­age, Fife re­mains proac­tive in ef­forts to re­duce va­cancy num­bers and is tak­ing for­ward a range of ini­tia­tives,” he added.

A spokes­woman for Broughty Ferry Health Cen­tre, where queues are reg­u­larly seen, said it is down to pa­tients whether they choose to queue for an ap­point­ment or phone the prac­tice.

She said: “It is the pa­tient’s choice. We have suf­fi­cient ap­point­ments that are avail­able by pre-book­ing or on the day so pa­tients can choose to phone or queue in the morn­ing.”

Pic­tures: Mhairi Ed­wards/George McLuskie.

Peo­ple wait­ing out­side Broughty Ferry Health Cen­tre be­fore it opens.

Pa­tients queue out­side Scoonie Med­i­cal Prac­tice in Leven.

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