The last single-handed GP practice in Edinburgh will close this summer, with almost 2,000 patients needing to be re-registered elsewhere.
Marchmont Medical Practice, which is based in a converted residential flat, will close at the end of June following the GP partner’s retirement.
Following news of the closure, local MSP Daniel Johnson wrote to the Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson to ‘highlight the shocking state of GP provision in South Edinburgh’ and to request a meeting.
Mr Johnson said the closure means 1,700 patients ‘must be reabsorbed into a system without any spare capacity’ and that there are three other local practices who also operate out of residential buildings and are ‘not fit for purpose’.
He added: ‘We need serious investment in our primary healthcare infrastructure, and we need it now.’
Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, said he has also requested a meeting with the new health secretary to discuss the state of general practice across Scotland.
According to Dr Buist, who also co-chairs UK GPC, the issue of GP practice closures is currently ‘most serious threat to the NHS’, ahead of A&E and outpatient waits.
Pulse’s recent article on general practice in Scotland, part of the ‘State of the devolved nations’ series, found that practices are returning their contracts ‘on a regular basis’.
Dr Annie Lomas, medical director at Lothian LMC, said that although Marchmont Medical Practice does not have a ‘huge amount of patients’, primary care is ‘really under the cosh, so any increased pressure is really felt across the system’.
Dr Lomas also highlighted the number of new builds in south Edinburgh and the extra pressure this puts on already strained GP practices.
She said: ‘If you’re going to build new houses you need to provide the health provision along with that. You can’t keep expecting existing practices to absorb the pressure.’
The regional health board, NHS Lothian, confirmed that Marchmont was the last single-handed GP practice in Edinburgh and that it will ‘remain fully functional’ until the end of June.
Patients will be sent letters over the next few months telling them which practice they have been moved to.
Mr Johnson also said he will lobby for ‘immediate funding’ to progress the construction of two new practices in the area, which he says has already been delayed.
In February, RCGP research showed that a third of all Scottish GP staff said their practice was at risk of closing in the next few months.