NHS Forth Valley has been slammed for placing patient care in jeopardy by not dealing with staffing problems at a crisis-hit health clinic sooner.
Earlier this month the NHS Board announced it was taking over the running of Grangemouth’s Kersiebank Medical Practice on May 1 after several GPs left the clinic in the space of a few months.
The practice had already been forced to reduce its catchment area, with a number of patients advised to register elsewhere.
Things came to a head last week when people were turned away without treatment.
East Falkirk Labour parliamentary candidate Michael Connarty raised concerns about the practice back in February and believes NHS Forth Valley should have stepped in earlier.
He said: “It was a complete meltdown at Kersiebank last week. You had people – including a 70-year-old woman – queuing up outside the practice from 8.30 a.m. then being given a number and told to go home and wait for a phone call without being seen or treated.
“I told the NHS Forth Valley chief executive this had gone from a failure to act on their part to a full blown crisis.”
Mr Connarty believes many GPs are leaving because the salary contract they receive is so lucrative they can afford to work part-time and still make a good living.
The situation has had a knock on effect for neighbouring practices, with many people now struggling to get appointments due to the influx of former Kersiebank patients told to sign up elsewhere.
The SNP’s candidate for East Falkirk, Martyn Day, praised NHS Forth Valley for stepping in when it did.
He said: “Kersiebank Medical Practice has faced a number of challenges, however, I’m pleased NHS Forth Valley has dealt with the issue in a proactive way, turning a crisis into an opportunity.”
An NHS Forth Valley spokesperson said: “There were seven doctors at Kersiebank Medical Practice but four doctors have recently left. There are four doctors working in the practice at the present time - three GPs and one long-term locum.
“Work is underway to recruit salaried GPs, employed by the health board, who can provide support to Kersiebank Medical Practice and other practices experiencing capacity challenges.”