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Fears for surgery as takeover looms

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By Euan Maxwell
Fears for surgery as takeover looms

THE FUTURE of Moffat’s doctors surgery was called into question this week.

Concerns raised over a “lack of detail” in plans to change the surgery’s primary care provider have sparked a conversation around whether services will be run from the current site just off the high street on a long-term basis.

Last month it was announced that Lanarkshire Medical Group (LMG) had won a bid to take over running the practice after the contract was put out to tender by NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

It means that from April, the 5312 patients will be seen by Dr Azhar Ali, Dr Usman Rehman and Dr Rameshwer Lal, whilst it’s anticipated that one existing salaried GP will be transfered to the new provider.

But community councillors have called for answers regarding continued use of the town centre practice.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, chairman Leys Geddes said: “Because we are a relatively isolated community and because we have a relatively elderly population, the whole question of healthcare is a very important issue.”

Mr Geddes added there remains “uncertainties” over the takeover.

Community councillor David Booth said: “I found out from local sources that the surgery is owned by previous GPs and they want to sell it. Now if you take-over a practice, surely question number one is who owns the building and all the rest of it. I just find this a fundamental mistake if they don’t realise they’ve not bought the building or they’re not going to lease the building or whatever.”

The tender notice states: “General medical services at the practice are currently provided from leased premises.”

It adds that the availability of the premises “is subject to further discussion with the owners”.

Annandale North Councillor Stephen Thomson confirmed that the surgery is in private ownership and said: “It’s up to the private owner to decide what they want to do with it.”

He added: “That is a potential frailty in any arrangement that’s being made.”

Mr Geddes said: “There is an air of uncertainty and we don’t want to have a scare but there are sincere issues here that we haven’t had answers to and we are right to be worried and asking questions.”

Responding to the concerns, Linda Bunney, head of primary care for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “The board is not aware of any plans to sell the high street surgery.

“The Health and Social Care Partnership has confirmed that alternative accommodation in Moffat does need to be provided for the GP practice and will be working with the new provider to progress this.”

She will attend a community council meeting in the new year to address concerns.

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “The board will continue the current arrangements with the landlord and is making arrangements for the new provider to operate from the premises.”

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