THE MEDICAL group responsible for providing GP services in Moffat and Lockerbie have given notice on their NHS contract.
Alba Medical Group will no longer provide GP services in those communities as of May 31 next year, meaning that work is now underway through the standardised national tendering process to find new providers.
Dr Grecy Bell is Deputy Medical Director for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, and she said: “Alba Medical Group have stated clearly that, with regret, they feel they have no option but to take this decision.
“It follows the awarding of the contract in April, when Alba took on the challenge of strengthening the services offered at these practices. This came after staffing had decreased within both practices, and the Board had assumed direct control and management.
“Restoring them was always going to be a challenge, and it was always going to take time. In the last eight months Alba retained staff at both practices, successfully recruited new, additional staff, and set about making operational changes aimed at making these practices more sustainable.
“They were also working to the direction set by the Scottish Government towards establishing a team with a wide range of skills, and with GPs in their new national role as expert generalists – ensuring that people see the right professional based on their needs.
“However, Alba have noted that they took on these practices at an incredibly challenging time when changes had to be made, both in terms of the composition of the practice team and how local people access services, and that it came amid the challenge of establishing an understanding and acceptance of these necessary changes within the local communities, across the region and nationally.
“Alba are within their rights to relinquish the contract for these practices, but it means that just eight months after the process to award the contract the work now begins to attract an alternate provider.
“The process as set out by the Scottish Government and followed by all Boards including NHS Dumfries and Galloway is well-established and robust.
“Work has begun to invite expressions of interest from GP providers who would wish to assume responsibility for GP services out of Moffat and Lockerbie.
“As is well established, GPs nationally are in short supply, and finding GP partnerships to take on practices can be very difficult – especially once a practice becomes Board-managed.
“As a consequence, as from now concerted efforts will be made to promote the contracts for Moffat and Lockerbie as vocally and widely as possible.
“Together, these practices provide services for a total of just over 9800 patients within the Moffat and Lockerbie areas, and the key consideration here is working to secure provision of general medical services to these communities.
“As before, there is a role for our communities in this process. Once again, community councils will be asked to provide a representative to serve on the scoring panel.
“More generally, communities can support the process by encouraging any GPs who express an interest in taking on these practices to feel supported to tackle what may now appear even greater challenges which will take a great deal of time and hard work to address.”