Should Lanarkshire Health Board step in and take over the running of the troubled Lanark Doctors practice to cure its shortage of GPs and lengthening waiting lists?
That question was asked at the latest meeting of the town’s Community Council at which it was claimed the practice is suffering from the nationwide “crisis” in the recruitment of doctors.
The debate was prompted by coverage in the Gazette of a temporary ‘fix’ being tried at the surgery to cut down on what had grown to be month-long waiting times for non-urgent appointments.
However, the new rolling two-week ‘block’ system of doctors’ appointments is, at best, merely confusing patients it was claimed at the council meeting.
Saying he’d been told that this temporary system was scheduled to last two months while recruitment efforts went on, South Lanarkshire Council member Ed Archer commented: “The trouble with two week ‘tranches’ of appointments is that illnesses just don’t happen in handy two week blocks. People need to see a doctor when they are ill. This system simply doesn’t work.
“I will be writing to NHS Lanarkshire to ask if it is considering taking over the running of the practice as health authorities have done elsewhere in Scotland.”
The Lanark Churches member of the council, the Rev Bryan Kerr was critical of the system directing some patients to the Nurse Practitioner instead of a doctor.
“You go to the reception and the receptionist asks you if your complaint can be dealt with by the Nurse Practitioner. Well, how do I know? I’ve not got a medical qualification,”
There was a word of sympathy for the Lanark Doctors’ receptionists from treasurer Karen Brown, who said: “I feel sorry for them. It’s they who have to deal with members of the public who get angry at not getting appointments.”
An NHS Lanarkshire spokesman said they had no plans to take over the Lanark practice.