A GP practice has warned patients it is cutting the number of appointments over the next three months due to staff shortages.
Great Western Medical Practice in Aberdeen will have around 200 fewer GP appointments every week until September until new partners start.
Calls have been made for greater government support for GP recruitment with the north east particularly hard hit by shortages in family doctors.
Patients at Great Western have now been told to make appointments with their family doctor only if absolutely necessary.
Dr Ken Lawton, partner at the surgery and president of the north-east branch of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, said the shortages at the practice were due to staff retiring and holidays.
He said two new doctors were joining in August and September to replace retiring doctors and that service would be affected only temporarily.
Dr Lawton said: “I think it has become evident over the past year and 18 months that it’s difficult to recruit GPs to the north-east of Scotland.
“I think that practices, the college, the health board and the Scottish Government need to work together to make it attractive to recruit GPs to the region.
“Shona Robison [health secretary] says we have recruited more GPs, which is true, but the issue is the recruitment of full-time doctors.
“The number of full time equivalent GPs is down by around 30% in Scotland, and it will probably be heightened in Aberdeen because it’s further away from the centre.
“So for every GP retiring, you probably need one and a half to two new GPs to replace them.”
Last night, politicians called on the Scottish Government to look at ways to solve the growing crisis.
Shortages at Great Western come after Brimmond Medical Practice in Bucksburn announced it is due to close its doors after 29 years given staff shortages.
North-east Labour MSP Richard Baker said: “This is something NHS Grampian and the government assured us they were going to address at the beginning of this year, and so far we have seen Brimmond close, we have seen warnings over the number of GPs retiring and now, we have got a practice saying they are going to have to cut a number of appointments.
“This shows the Scottish Government simply isn’t doing enough to ensure NHS Grampian has enough doctors, they need to address this issue because patients are suffering as a result.”
Ward councillor Ross Thomson said: “We need to look at why there is a shortage of GP services locally, and why we are failing to attract new doctors.”
“What are the real reasons – is it a lack of affordable housing, for example? – and the Scottish Government needs to look at how it can work together with the council to address this problem.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “As an independent business, the practice is fully responsible for the provision of services to its registered patients and has discretion as to how it manages this including the number of appointments it provides.
“While they will be reducing the number of appointments they will provide for a temporary period, the practice are doing so with the aim of maintaining service continuity during the core hours (8am – 6pm) Monday to Friday.
“During this time, patients will continue to have access to the full range of services provided by the GPs and other healthcare professionals working with the team at GWMP.
A leaflet issued by the practice informed patients of the need to access the right healthcare professional for their needs.
Contact details for other professionals, such as pharmacists, opticians, health visitors and physiotherapists have been provided to patients.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We are committed to supporting GP recruitment and retention and our investment in primary care has seen the number of GPs across the country increase by seven per cent under this Government.
“This issue is not unique to Scotland and we continue to work with health boards and the medical profession to develop recruitment initiatives and are working with the Scottish GP Committee to review the contract in Scotland over the next two years.”