Community unanimous in anger over Health Centre

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The furore continues over the phasing out of Blackburn residents from Inverurie Medical Practice and this was evident at a packed public meeting at Kinellar Community Hall earlier this week.

SNP MSPs Mark McDonald and Dennis Robertson, along with local SNP councillor Fergus Hood, attended with a view to discussing the decision by Inverurie Medical Practice to remove their Blackburn patients (224 in total) from its patient register.

At the meeting it came to light that the practice admitted the letter they sent out to patients should have been worded more helpfully, and NHS Grampian confessed that residents were never advised of historical boundary changes which removed Blackburn from the Inverurie Practice.

SNP politicians called for the 60-day period to register with a new GP to be extended, and for the practice to look at the profile of the patients who were being asked to leave, after it emerged that 116 patients have still to find a new GP with half the period elapsed.

It was revealed that Aberdeenshire Council has taken in £4.5million in developer contributions from Inverurie, Kintore and Blackburn, but not a penny has been spent on healthcare infrastructure.

SNP politicians demanded an absolute guarantee that continuity of care be provided for individuals with long-term health conditions, particularly if they were unable to find a new GP.

Despite being guided to register with the practice at Bucksburn and at Dyce, patients found that one of the practices operating out of these centres is full to capacity already. Fears were raised over the impact of new housing in these communities and questions were raised about Blackburn being ‘sacrificial lamb’ yet again.

Inverurie Medical Practice did offer to meet with residents who were having difficulties registering elsewhere, and to try and assist them wherever possible.

Commenting after the meeting Dennis Robertson, MSP for Aberdeenshire West said: “I was delighted that so many people from Blackburn attended the meeting which was arranged by my colleague Mark McDonald MSP with Peter Robinson, chair of the Fintray and Kinellar Community Council. Local patients and I sought an extension for the remaining 116 from the original 224 who have still to register with a new medical practice. Although we were disappointed that the extension was not forthcoming, we were given assurances that all remaining patients would be considered in a case by case basis.

 “I informed the meeting that I would secure a meeting with Stagecoach to explore the possibility to move the bus stop near to the new medical practice for those patients with mobility issues. In September I will put forward the points raised at the meeting by local patients with NHS Grampian.”

Mark McDonald, MSP for North East Scotland, added: “The meeting was well attended and residents put their points across to the representatives from NHS Grampian and the Medical Practice. It was a shock to everyone to discover that Aberdeenshire Council has never used developer money to try and enhance medical infrastructure, and I will be writing to the council to ascertain what they plan to do with the monies that remain unspent from developer contributions in the area, a total of around £1million.  

“The absolute imperatives are that residents who find it difficult to register elsewhere, for a variety of reasons, receive the continuity of care they are entitled to, and that NHS Grampian must learn the lessons of this experience, and apply them, so that no community ever has to go through the anxiety and uncertainty that the people of Blackburn have had to endure.”

Councillor Fergus Hood, who represents East Garioch, commented: “I was pleased to see such a large turnout from the local community to explore the decision by Inverurie Medical Group to drop 224 Blackburn residents from their patient list. The representatives present from the practice admitted that the way the change had been handled could have been better and a review of this process was promised. I am concerned that where my constituents in Blackburn do register with another Practice, what assurance can be given that these residents will not be subjected to another change as there are plans to build thousands of new houses in the Aberdeen area once the new Local Development Plan has been approved.

 “There are a small number of very elderly vulnerable people who simply do not want to be subjected to this move and I would urge these patients to meet with their GP in Inverurie, an offer that was made at the meeting. Discussion also took place about who was responsible for delivering appropriate GP facilities here in the North East and NHS Grampian need to communicate this information not only to the residents of Blackburn but to all the residents of Aberdeenshire.”

 For further information, contact Mark McDonald’s office on 01467 670070.