The ongoing lack of GPs has forced another north-east surgery to hand its contract back to NHS Grampian.
Inverurie Medical Practice, managed by a team of doctors there, will make the switch on September 7.
The clinic has more than 25,000 patients on its books, who are being told services will continue as normal for the next six months.
Following the switchover, it’s possible running of the surgery will revert to Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP).
It already manages six other GP clinics in the region, including Mintlaw and Aberchirder.
But health bosses say they’re looking at “every future possible option” which could also mean contracting the service to a different partnership of GPs.
Demand is ‘unprecedented and unmanageable’
Inverurie is the latest practice to make the move amid a severe lack of doctors in the north and north-east.
Next month AHSCP will take control of Fyvie Oldmeldrum, which also blamed the shortage of GPs.
The Grampian Local Medical Committee (LMC), which represents GPs across the region, says the demand for medics is “unprecedented and unmanageable”.
Last month it said some doctors are having to see more than four times the recommended safe limit for patients every day.
And it warned there could be cases where people in Aberdeen might, in “extreme cases,” have to travel as far as Moray to find a GP still accepting new patients.
‘We can’t provide the level of care we want’
Dr Iain Innes, one of the Inverurie Medical Practice partners, said it had been an “extremely difficult” decision to make.
“However, we cannot continue to provide the level of care we would wish to without recruiting new GPs,” he said.
“We have explored every avenue to recruit with positivity but there simply are not enough trained GPs out there.”
The clinic has also faced issues recruiting for non-doctor roles as well.
Fellow partner Dr George Leiper said they’ll work with health chiefs to ensure the handover is “as smooth as possible”.
He added: “We have been considering all our options for a long time now.
“It is sad that we cannot continue as a partnership, but we are looking to the future and how we can continue to be part of the Inverurie community.
“I would like to thank our staff for their professionalism and the care they deliver to people every day.
“I would also like to thank our patients for the support they have provided to the practice over the years.”
Uncertain time, but Inverurie Medical Practice will ‘continue as normal’
This has been echoed by Alex Pirrie, the AHSCP manager for central Aberdeenshire.
She says patients will understandably feel stressed – but don’t need to take any action at this time.
“Inverurie Medical Practice has unfortunately, like many others across the country, found itself in the position of being unable to recruit new, permanent GPs,” she said.
“We will be working closely with the practice and all other partners to secure a robust, sustainable, future-focused primary care service for everyone registered with the practice.
“I appreciate that this is an uncertain time for those registered with the practice, however, it will continue as normal over the next six months.
“There is no need for patients to change their practice, or take any other action, at this time.”