More than 8,000 patients have been told their GP surgery will shut in just five months – amid warnings other practices in the north-east are likely to fold because of a chronic shortage of family doctors.
Brimmond Medical Group – which serves Bucksburn and Dyce – will close at the end of September after doctors confirmed they will cease as a partnership due to staff shortages.
NHS Grampian said planned retirements, unforseen departures and a national shortage of GP had led medics at the practice to resign from their NHS contracts.
The health board is now trying to find new doctors to take over the care of patients.
But Dr Ken Lawton, north-east provost of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said difficulties in recruiting family doctors in the region put other surgeries at risk.
He said: “If a practice like Brimmond can go down, it can happen to any practice and my feeling is that Brimmond will not be the last
“Potentially this is a very, very serious situation.
“This is the first time in my experience as a GP in Aberdeen for nearly 30 years that a practice has closed.
“My feeling is that the politicians say that it is just the GPs that are grumbling, but actually the GPs have been right in their concerns over recruitment.”
Dr Lawton said he was concerned about what would happen to the 8,300 patients – who are served by nine GPs – when practices were already stretched to the limit.
He added there was already a 10,000-patient shortfall of doctors in the north corridor of Aberdeen, including the Ellon, Newmachar and Stoneywood areas.
A number of GPs are also due to retire from the Gilbert Road Medical Group, which serves the Bucksburn community along with Brimmond.
BMA Scotland has already warned that GPs are on the brink of a workforce crisis, with almost a third of practitioners hoping to retire in the next five years.
Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald has written an open letter to NHS Grampian expressing his concern at the move.
He has also arranged to meet Health Secretary Shona Robinson to discuss the issue.
The SNP MSP said: “This letter has understandably caused a great deal of stress and anxiety for my constituents in Dyce and Bucksburn, and it is a great concern that their medical practice is going to cease to operate in six months.
“I have written to NHS Grampian seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the matter, and will be looking to discuss their plans to resolve the situation so that my constituents do not lose out.
“I am only too aware of the acute pressures that are being faced by practices in the north of Aberdeen, and that is why I am meeting the cabinet secretary for health to discuss the matter.
“I hope that a resolution can be found, and will be working with all interested parties to try to ensure that my constituents are not left in a position where they do not have a registration with a GP.”
Judith Proctor, chief officer of the Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “NHS Grampian and Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership are working with the doctors to ensure a smooth transfer to different arrangements from October 1, 2015.
“We will shortly be requesting expressions of interest from other practices, to take over the care of registered patients from October this year. Once the situation is clearer, further information will be issued to all patients.”
Ms Proctor added: “I know this news will cause concern for Brimmond Medical Group patients.
“However, in the short term at least, they should notice no change. The practice remains fully operational and they should make appointments with them as normal.”