A neighbouring practice is to temporarily take over the running of a troubled Aberdeen GP surgery after a mass walkout.
Denburn Medical Practice will take charge of the embattled Old Aberdeen, in Sunnybank Road, next month.
All nine GPs quit the practice in the run up to Christmas in protest against potential changes in its permanent management.
The Denburn GP partnership – which was the only applicant for the job – has signed a service level agreement (SLA) to run the Old Aberdeen for six months, until the long-term future of the medical centre is determined.
As a stop gap, it provides some certainty for the 11,000 patients on the books of one of the Granite City’s largest doctors surgeries – which whistleblowers had warned would “collapse” due to the en masse resignation.
Old Aberdeen is by far the largest of those, alongside Camphill, Carden, Marywell, Torry and Whinhill.
Aberdeen’s other 22 doctors surgeries are already run directly by GP partnerships, as are the majority across Scotland – but insiders argued a special case should be made for Old Aberdeen due to its high student count, which brings in little income.
A spokesman confirmed Denburn would take over on February 1, adding: “ACHSCP invited all practices in Grampian to put forward a note of interest in providing the clinical services, following GP resignations from Old Aberdeen.
“During the submission period, ACHSCP received one note of interest, which was from Denburn.
“The submission was fully evaluated prior to the award of the SLA and was judged to fully meet the practice’s immediate requirements.”
Staff at the Sunnybank medical centre were riled by the decision of the Integration Joint Board (IJB), which scrutinises the work of health and social care officials in Aberdeen, to vote through the tendering process – despite it proving least popular among employees during consultation.
Last night IJB chairwoman, councillor Sarah Duncan, said: “I welcome the partnership’s prompt and necessary action to secure this important agreement, which will secure primary care services at Old Aberdeen and ensure that all patients continue to receive high-quality healthcare.
“The recent GP resignations from Old Aberdeen made it imperative that the Partnership moved swiftly to ensure continuity of care and I applaud them for making this happen so decisively and quickly.”
‘Fight will go on’ to protect troubled Aberdeen GP practice from long-term change
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for the tendering process to be abandoned at Old Aberdeen, which it was hoped could open the door to a return for those GPs yet to secure other work.
However, one of the doctors – who is remaining anonymous to avoid career repercussions – said last night’s news was the “nail in the coffin” of any immediate return.
Jonathan Juel-Beer, an organiser of the Save Old Aberdeen Medical Practice campaign, suggested that key players in the decision to go to tender were too close to the Denburn practice.
He said: “Specific concerns were raised with the ACHSCP about the involvement of partners at Denburn practice in the process leading up to this and previous tenders.
“Denburn now being awarded the SLA only goes to strengthen our suspicions.”
Fellow Sunnybank resident and campaigner, John Singer, added: “The SLA is a temporary stop gap, so the fight against tendering will go on.
“It’s reckless and I think they have shown no consideration for patients trying to get in touch, but outright contempt.”
Bosses “cold” as they tell GPs they won’t be needed in February
A whistleblower doctor claims bosses were “very cold” as they told departing GPs their patients would be denied final appointments with long-standing patients due to the temporary takeover.
One of the nine to quit over the running of Old Aberdeen Medical Practice being put out to tender has spoken out as news emerges of a temporary stop gap to ensure patients can see a doctor as staff numbers dwindle.
They told The P&J: “The remaining staff with notice to work have been told they can go elsewhere when Denburn come in on February 1.
“In a meeting, one GP said they had promised a patient one last phone call on February 8 but they were told it would just be treated as if they were off sick.
“There is no respect for continuity of care or patient trust – it’s very cold, matter-of-fact and sums up the whole situation.
Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart demanded a meeting with health and social care bosses on Friday to get answers over the controversy – but he said questions still remain on the long-term plan.
He said: “This is not ideal and although there is now an interim arrangement in place to serve patients, many will be angered by this situation. I am extremely disappointed about the poor level of communication that there has been during this entire affair.
“I do hope that talks can be held between ACHSCP and the Old Aberdeen practitioners to see if a compromise about future delivery can be reached for the good of all concerned, particularly patients.”