A band of GPs who resigned in protest to sweeping changes at their Granite City surgery have offered to come back – if the controversial overhaul is reversed.
The group of nine doctors walked out on Old Aberdeen Medical Practice as health bosses voted through a management restructure, paving the way for a private company to run it.
They claimed their voices had not been listened to throughout the consultation and at the timing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the nine – which were all the GPs on staff at the Sunnybank Road clinic, have extended an olive branch, making their willingness to interview for their old jobs known.
However, they would insist the practice was returned to the previous ‘2C’ public management, which they are pinning future recruitment hopes on.
Old Aberdeen GPs could return
In an open letter to city health bosses, they claim multiple sources have told them care has been “significantly compromised” at the centre, which they say has been left “chronically understaffed”.
“The redesign was, we were told, a product of GP shortages within the city of Aberdeen,” the group wrote.
“Conversely, this project has resulted in the loss of many GPs.
“Of the nine original GPs of Old Aberdeen Medical Practice (OAMP), only one remains on a permanent contract to provide services within the city.”
They also would press for more face-to-face appointments with patients, going against the grain of rising use of remote video call consultations.
“We believe this has done a great deal of damage both to the health of our patients and to the reputation of general practice as a whole,” the doctors told ACHSCP bosses.
Old Aberdeen Medical Practice – what happened after GPs walked out
Newburn Healthcare – which runs Denburn and Mastrick GP practices – is currently providing emergency cover at OAMP, and remains in talks to take over permanently.
The letter, dated November 29, comes in the same week as Aberdeen’s Integration Joint Board, the body overseeing health and social care in the city, voted to close Carden Medical Centre as it struggled to recruit staff.
Both practices were among six to be part of the overhaul – moving them from being run by the NHS and Aberdeen City Health And Social Care Partnership to private firms.
The rejig was voted through a year ago to the day that Carden’s closure was sealed.
While the move faced fierce protest, it was aimed at making the practices more sustainable and brought them in line with the other 22 GP surgeries in Aberdeen.
But the former Old Aberdeen doctors claimed their clinic should be made an exception, given its huge Aberdeen University student patient list made it one of the largest – and least profitable – centres in the city.
An ACHSCP spokesman quickly put paid to any talk of a comeback, however, telling us: “We thank the former OAMP GPs for their letter and offer to return to OAMP.
“There are, however, no plans to reverse the decision to put the practice out to tender in line with the approved redesign for GP services across the city.
“ACHSCP takes patient safety very seriously and have a robust complaints process to investigate any clinical complaints about any of its services.
“We would also like to thank Newburn Medical Practice who stepped in to provide and maintain services to OAMP patients.”