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Anger as health update delayed

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By Charlotte MacKay
Moffat
Anger as health update delayed

A FURTHER delay to a long-awaited update about healthcare provision in Moffat has been branded 'insulting' by community councillors.

But news that a dentist has been found to take over the town’s dental practice was described as a “huge relief”.

The community council had arranged for the head of primary care at NHS Dumfries and Galloway to attend their meeting on Tuesday evening to provide updates about the future of the town’s GP and dental practices.

But the NHS representative pulled out of the meeting just hours before it was due to take place.

Moffat residents will instead be invited to an online information session next month, with plans for a face-to-face event in March.

Responding to the news that the health board would not be attending Tuesday’s meeting, community councillor Liam O’Neill said: “This is wholly unsatisfactory. We have no detail whatsoever about what is happening with healthcare provision, and if a meeting is scheduled for early next month there is no reason why an outline of their plans could not be provided.

“To cancel at the last minute is insulting to the community council.”

Chairman Leys Geddes said the meeting had been arranged several months ago to try to ease the anxieties of Moffat residents about the future of their healthcare provision.

He said: “My concern is that the further delay will only increase these anxieties.

“The online session is not what we had hoped for and it is not what we had agreed to.”

Last year the Moffat GP surgery was taken over by Lanarkshire Medical Group (LMG), who will also take on responsibility for Lockerbie’s medical practice from the beginning of April.

Yesterday a spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership said patients registered at both practices, as well as elected members and other stakeholders, will be invited to the online information session on February 10.

He said: “Apologies were extended to Moffat Community Council over the short notice in the cancellation of attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, with an explanation provided that this was due to the fact that arrangements had now been finalised for a dedicated public meeting.

“Letters are in the process of being issued to all patients at the Moffat and Lockerbie practices, inviting them to attend and meet the new provider who will be responsible for the delivery of GP services out of the two towns.

“Ideally this would have been an opportunity to provide a face-to-face introduction to the teams. However, at this point and due to current Covid-19 levels, this meeting will take place online.

“Patients should note that no action is required around the move to the new management of the practices from April 1. Patients will remain registered with their respective practices and continue to speak to and be seen in their respective practices in either Moffat or Lockerbie.”

Meanwhile, Mr Geddes said he had been in email contact with the head of primary care, Linda Bunney, over a period of several months.

He said Ms Bunney had confirmed that the health board is currently in advanced discussions with a local dentist interested in taking on the surgery in Causeway Street.
Details are still being finalised, but it is anticipated that the new dentist could be in place by late March.

Separately, the community council also received assurance from locality manager Gary Sheehan that Moffat Hospital will continue to be used as a vaccination centre and by medical professionals, including the town’s GPs, in the short to medium term.

However, Mr Sheehan had also stated that there were no immediate plans to reinstate inpatient care at Moffat Hospital.

A health board spokesman yesterday said: “Staff from some of our cottage hospitals, which are not being used for inpatient purposes, are currently deployed within the community, directly supporting the work to reduce delayed discharges by helping people home.

“It would not be appropriate or feasible to reopen the empty cottage hospitals at this time due to staffing pressures and the need to focus our limited staffing resource on supporting people in their own home, wherever possible.”

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