Last minute pressure has been piled on Aberdeen health bosses ahead of a meeting to decide the future of six GP practices this morning.
The integration joint board (IJB) will consider proposals from the City Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) on management change.
Camphill, Carden, Marywell, Old Aberdeen, Torry and Whinhill medical centres are all run by ACHSCP currently – but a process to find GP-led partnerships to take over could be signed-off on.
Five Old Aberdeen doctors have already resigned over the plans, with concern further walk-outs could follow if the move is backed today.
More than 100 staff and thousands of people around the city could be affected.
Last week, sources close to the practice described it as being “on the brink of collapse” – a worrying prospect for the near 11,000 patients the clinic serves.
Concerned patients contacting The Press And Journal have joined staff in making a special case for Old Aberdeen, unique in the city due to its patient list drawing from the surrounding area and the huge student population from Aberdeen University.
Health officials have recommended board members opt to put management of the clinics out to tender, paving the way for private companies, headed by GPs, to be contracted by the NHS to take them on.
Unions say this amounts to privatisation, though doctor-led practices are favoured by national bodies and the Scottish Government, the local medical committee and “since the birth of the NHS” in 1948, according to an ACHSCP spokesman.
The six under review are the exception in Aberdeen, with the other 23 medical centres already run by doctors.
Despite this, the option to launch a search for companies to take over one, some or all of the practices ranked lowest in staff consultation, which unions claim has been ignored.
Now, north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has launched an 11th hour bid to halt progress until staff are consulted more fully.
The Holyrood health committee convener said: “The planned management restructuring will have a significant impact on the staff who work at Old Aberdeen medical practice and other GP surgeries, which in turn will affect the service that they are able to provide to their patients.
“The IJB must listen to the concerns and comments of these staff before they come to any decision on the future of the practice.
“These are the people who are best placed to understand how the changes will affect primary care in Aberdeen.
“No final decision should be made until staff have been properly consulted on how the changes will affect their employment and their ability to continue providing medical care to the community.”
Last night an ACHSCP spokesman told The P&J: “IJB members will consider a detailed report on proposals for remodelling the management arrangements for the GP practices and will take their decision in the best interests of patients, practice staff and the wider primary care provision across Aberdeen.”