The minor injuries unit at Turriff is to partially reopen two years after its temporary closure at the start of the pandemic along with other sites across Aberdeenshire.
The announcement follows the launch of a petition calling for the return of services in the Turriff area.
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership has confirmed patients will first have to call NHS24 before they can get a face-to-face appointment.
North-east MP David Duguid and MSP Douglas Lumsden, who both backed the petition last month, have said the announcement does not go far enough for residents who have been “left behind”.
Mr Duguid said: “I welcome services at Turriff MIU returning at least partially but this doesn’t go far enough for the community.
“What is really needed and expected is a return to the services offered before the Covid pandemic.
“People will now have to go through a virtual appointment with staff elsewhere in Aberdeenshire before they can see someone face-to-face at Turriff which is simply not good enough.
“Yet again, Turriff and the surrounding area is being left behind and I will continue to do everything I can to make sure residents receive adequate healthcare in the town, whether it’s ambulances, GPs or the MIU.”
The Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan has said he understands staffing issues, but will now write to NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government to find out when full services will return.
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership has said the decision to temporarily close the unit was to consolidate staffing, support the Covid response and vaccination work and to protect communities from the virus.
Services will return in a phased manner to “ensure that all staff have the right training and support to deliver minor injury treatment” after a two-year hiatus.
The minor injury units at Aboyne Community Hospital, Kincardine Community Hospital in Stonehaven and Chalmers Community Hospital in Banff will also begin to re-mobilise at the same time.
Pam Milliken, chief officer for Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The nationally driven change to how people access urgent care services means that we are better able to work as a network and schedule appointments for people where they can get the right treatment.
“Basically, this means that people will get to the right person or service to treat their issue as quickly as possible.
“A further benefit of scheduling appointments is that we can better work across services such as x-ray to make sure that people are seen and treated as quickly as possible and that we meet everyone’s needs.”
‘Detrimental’ impact on community
Last month, Mr Lumsden wrote to the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, about his concerns surround the ongoing closures.
In response, Mr Yousaf said staffing issues were a central reason why the minor injuries unit remained closed, and suggested residents use other units if they need to – which could involve a 60-mile round trip to Peterhead.
He added that he would continue to “monitor the situation closely”.
In response to the reopening announcement, Mr Lumsden said: “While it’s a relief Turriff MIU is reopening, health provision is still restricted for patients who will have to jump through hoops to get a face-to-face appointment.”