A councillor is concerned that a minor injury unit in the north-east could be axed following a review.
A consultation on the way forward for facilities at Chalmers Hospital in Banff, Fraserburgh Hospital, Peterhead Community Hospital and Turriff Hospital has already begun.
Banff hosted the first of a number of public events yesterday which allow locals to ask questions and for authority officials to hear feedback.
However, Banff and District councillor John Cox is worried that the decision on the future of the town’s minor injury unit has already been taken.
He said: “This is an exercise they are going through to consult on something that, at the end of the day, they are going to reduce that service.
“I think one of the reasons they are doing this is because they can’t staff it. But I think they need to do something to address the staffing issues.
“They are taking the easy option by closing units and saying ‘we don’t have the staff’.
“There is no question about it. If people can’t get to the local hospital, the alternative is a two-hour drive to Aberdeen.”
Mr Cox’s fellow Banff councillor Glen Reynolds is also anxious about any potential change to services in the town.
He added: “My fear is the removal of the MIU will, to all intents and purposes, mean the removal of a casualty department at Chalmers Hospital.
But Angie Wood, location manager for the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership said their review was not about potential closures.
She said: “Reviewing the provision of Minor Injury Units is not about trying to close units or take services away from communities, it is about how we provide the best care to everybody.
“MIUs provide treatment for minor injuries, however they are not Accident and Emergency units. Staff are trained to treat an agreed number of minor conditions.
“Across Aberdeenshire, the Health and Social Care Partnership fund a range of services, including pharmacists, opticians and GP practices to ensure communities are well provisioned with care for minor injuries.
“The review is far from complete and no decisions have been taken.
“A report which collates all of the feedback from these public events and from data gathered regarding visits to units will go before the IJB once this phase of the review has been completed.”