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Patients left out in the cold at north-east doctor surgery due to staff shortages

Patients are being forced to wait outside a medical practice due to staff shortages.

Patients at a north-east medical practice are being left to wait in the cold due to staff shortages, it has been claimed.

Aberchirder Medical Practice is currently short of administrative staff, with extra resources being trained up in Portsoy in an attempt to ease the pressure.

In the meantime, patients must queue up outside and wait for the doctor to come and take them to their appointment.

MP David Duguid has now written to NHS Grampian in an attempt to find a solution before the cold weather properly sets in.

He has also raised concerns that patients are being forced to make a 20-mile round trip to Portsoy to drop off medical samples due to the staff shortages at Aberchirder.

‘That seems to be the big wall we can’t seem to get past’

With winter weather gripping the north-east more and more as the days go by, residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the situation.

Brenda King, chairwoman of Aberchirder and District Community Association, stressed nobody was blaming the frontline staff but said people were growing increasingly frustrated about the lack of communication from health bosses.

She said: “We have no complaints about the local staff who all work so hard, it is more the lack of communication.

“That seems to be the big wall we can’t seem to get past.

“If people don’t have a car then you have to wait outside until you’re called in, and in this weather if you’re an elderly person facing the wind and the rain we have had recently that’s just not on.

“We just want the chance to discuss what the village needs. People can’t get to Portsoy, there isn’t a bus that can take you there.”

Mrs King suggested that the staff training could be split between Portsoy and Aberchirder to ensure there is enough cover for the surgery to be open for sample drop-offs at least part of the week.

“Could they not train for two days here and three in Portsoy – at least that way people could wait inside the practice and drop off samples at some point in the week,” she said.

“They said it made sense to train them in Portsoy, but who does it make sense to?”

David Duguid MP has written to NHS Grampian seeking answers for the people of Aberchirder.

‘Catastrophic’ for community if surgery closes

The village has recently had its mobile library service axed for a home delivery service, despite calls for the library itself to fully reopen.

Concerns are growing the surgery could be the next facility to go.

In his letter to NHS Grampian’s chief executive Caroline Hiscox, Mr Dugid states: “My constituents tell me the practice has stated that, because of a shortage of administrative staff, it will be running a very limited service for the foreseeable future.

“This will mean old and vulnerable people in Aberchirder will be without vital medical services and I understand that patients will have to wait in their car or outside while samples will have to be dropped off in Portsoy, assuming patients have the resources to get there.

“I would be very grateful if you could let me know what is happening at the practice and how soon a full service will be offered again to residents in Aberchirder.”

Mrs King vowed that the community association would do all it can to help elderly residents who sometimes struggle to keep up-to-date with what is going on as they don’t have social media.

“If the community association can help we will, if letters need sticking through doors or anything like that we can help – people just need to know what is going on.”

Mr Duguid added: “An Caorann Medical Practice forms the heart of the Aberchirder community and any potential closure would create an additional barrier for patients wanting to see their GP.

“The issues faced by patients are very alarming which is why they must be addressed with the utmost urgency.

“I have also asked NHS Grampian to give clarification on the future of An Caorann because it would be catastrophic for the community if this facility was to close.”

A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Due to the lack of reception and clerical staff we have had to, temporarily, ask patients at Aberchirder to wait outside the practice building until their assigned clinician is ready to see them. Recruitment to these vital roles is underway and we hope to be back up to strength soon.”