Politicians ask NHS Lanarkshire to act

The Handa Practice will close at the end of this month
The Handa Practice will close at the end of this month

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP Jamie Hepburn has written to NHS Lanarkshire and Condorrat Medical Practice on their plans to support patients in Cumbernauld Village.

This follows the announcement of the closure of the local branch GP surgery, the Handa Practice.

Together with Stuart McDonald MP, the two local parliamentarians sent a postal survey to the entire Village which showed that residents were overwhelmingly against the proposal.

It also revealed that 80 per cent of them would have difficulty accessing the service in Condorrat.

Mr Hepburn said: “Having surveyed residents alongside Stuart McDonald, it’s clear that they were overwhelmingly against the closure of this surgery and their transfer to the Condorrat Practice.

“Not only that, but the majority also said they would have problems travelling to Condorrat for appointments.

“NHS Lanarkshire need to work with the community and Condorrat Medical Practice to ensure that a viable replacement service is found.

“Whether that is by providing an outreach service or by other means, every option should be explored.

“I have also stressed the need for the health board to ensure that support and advice is provided for any patients travelling to Condorrat in the meantime.”

Cumbernauld East councillor Tom Johnston has asked NHS Lanarkshire to consider buying the surgery building in Smithyends and seeking a GP tenant.

He also believes awareness-raising north of the M80 could boost surgery patient numbers.

Councillor Johnston had raised the issue of marketing residential areas north of the M80 in January with Ross McGuffie, Interim Chief Officer, Health & Social Care, North Lanarkshire.

Now he has written to Nicola Kelly, Primary Care Development & Improvement Manager, NHS Lanarkshire,suggesting finding a GP wishing to rent the Village surgery.

Councillor Johnston: “I understand the Scottish Government is keen to offer new GPs, who might not wish to run a private practice business,the chance to rent surgeries. Cumbernauld Village might be an ideal start for such GPs.

“In recent years new communities have grown north of the M80. Residents there might not be in the habit of thinking of using Village medical facilities, so awareness raising in Westerwood and Carrickstone might make the Smithyends practice more viable.”

NHS Lanarkshire has stated it will not get involved because Condorrat Medical Practice is still offering provision for its patients, or they are welcome to register with another practice.

Alistair Mackintosh, Primary Care Manger, said: “GP practices continue to operate as independent contractors, meaning GPs run their own business and employ their own staff, health boards only get involved to directly provide General Medical Services (GMS) when there is no other provision for patients.

“For example, when a practice decides to hand back it’s GMS Contract and patients on their list therefore no longer have access to a GP in the practice. This is not the case here.

“The branch surgery in Cumbernauld Village is part of the Condorrat Medical Practice which remains in operation, providing a service to its patients.

“It is not uncommon for practices with branch premises to review how they provide the best services and care for all their patients, maximise GP and other clinical staff time and provide an overall enhanced level of service.

“The distance between the health centre in Condorrat and the surgery in Village is four miles. House calls can be made when necessary, however, where travel is an ongoing issue, there are also several other practices within a one to three mile radius that patients could apply to register with, should they choose to do so.

“In essence, there is no GMS contract for either the health board to run or invite GPs to tender for.”