Plans by public health authorities to withdraw from managing six Aberdeen GP practices have been voted through.
The integration joint board (IJB) has approved Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) proposals to find GP-led partnerships to run Camphill, Carden, Marywell, Old Aberdeen, Torry and Whinhill medical centres.
Five Old Aberdeen doctors have already resigned over the plans, with concern further walk-outs could soon follow.
More than 100 staff and thousands of people around the city will be affected by the plans.
The IJB deliberated over the proposals for nearly three hours before voting them through, it is understood.
Last week, sources close to the Old Aberdeen 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 recommended IJB 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.