A Scottish GP practice has been unable to fill four roles for the past three years, due to the current workforce crisis.
Valleyfield Practice, near Dunfermline, Fife, was taken over by NHS Fife and the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, after the previous GP contractor terminated their contract to provide general medical services.
It comes as almost one in ten GP practices in Scotland has been taken over by health boards as staff shortages force partners into handing back their contracts, with data showing 76 GP surgeries out of 910 in Scotland (8.4%) are being run by a health board, or ‘are heading in that direction’.
Last year only one GP was working at Valleyfield Practice, according to reports, and four staff vacancies have gone unanswered for the past three years.
But NHS Fife told Pulse that ‘the local community continue to have uninterrupted access to healthcare services’ including GPs and ‘a wider multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals’.
The contract to provide services from Valleyfield is currently part of a tender process to find new GP contractors.
The intention of this process is to ‘return this practice to independent status with an appropriate level of GP and other clinical cover’, NHS Fife said.
A spokesperson for NHS Fife added: ‘The challenges around recruitment of GPs are not exclusive to Fife and are being experienced across the UK.
‘Despite that, NHS Fife and Fife Health and Social Care Partnership continue to work closely with medical practices to ensure the necessary support is available to enable patients to continue to receive good quality local healthcare.’
In May, research from the BMA found that GP patient lists are formally closed to new registrants at almost one in ten Scottish GP practices.
The doctors’ union warned that general practice in Scotland is in ‘a sustainability crisis,’ with almost a quarter of a million more patients than 10 years ago and almost 90 fewer GP practices.
The BMA also issued a workforce warning at the beginning of the year, saying that about 2,000 new GPs are required to satisfy demand across practices in Scotland.