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It won’t happen again

By Christie Breen
It won’t happen again

LESSONS will be learned from the GP saga in Lockerbie and Moffat, say NHS Dumfries and Galloway officials.

Representatives from NHS Dumfries Galloway attended Lockerbie Community Council (LDCC) on Tuesday night to discuss patient frustrations with the surgery operators, Alba Medical Group, who resigned from the contract two weeks ago and will finish in May.

NHS deputy medical director Dr Grecy Bell said: “It has been very unfortunate that despite the efforts of many people in Lockerbie that work in the practice, the contract with Alba has not worked in the end, and we recognise that.

“We recognise from the feedback that things were not working, so where we are at the moment is we are trying to move forward with the procurement process and reconcile what we hear, see and read into a service that is going to work for Lockerbie and Moffat.”

NHS Dumfries and Galloway say they have now began advertising for a new contractor to come in and run the GP practices, which have 9800 patients.

And they promised they are taking steps to ensure a similar situation doesn’t happen again, as David Rowland, director of strategic planning and transformation, explained: “There are lessons to be learned by us from last time about how we assess the viability of those businesses and crucially, given the experience we’ve had, the sustainability of those businesses and we’re actively working to improve our processes to make sure that we do that.

“There are also lessons to be learned, in terms of how we support the successful contractor this time around and we need to reflect on that for May and be honest about how we work with them and how we work with the public.

“There’s a lot of work for us to do to get the right candidates first and then begin to build a sustainable service in Lockerbie for the future.”

When questioned further by LDCC chairwoman Jan Andrews about the overseeing of the Lockerbie surgery, Dr Bell revealed that NHS Dumfries and Galloway was responsible for overseeing Alba’s running of the practice and that as a board they were “satisfied that their (Alba’s) contractual obligations were being met”.

But in response, community councillor Doreen Jenkins said: “For months that surgery has been run by nurse practitioners, there is only one doctor on site who you can’t even speak to unless it’s by telephone. If it wasn’t for the nurse practitioners I don’t know where we’d be, they have taken on a lot of additional responsibility and you’re saying obligations are being met?”

Other in attendance were also dissatisfied at the answers given and are now looking for more transparency going forward.

Moffat community councillor Mick Barker attended the meeting ahead of similar event in Moffat on January 10. He was left ‘uncomfortable’ by the lack of specifics shared and said: “I will now be asking in writing for a lot more information than what you’ve shared tonight, which has basically been small snippets of anecdotes.

“I can see a situation now where we still don’t know the formal process for procurement. We’ll be asking you who is involved in the various steps in that process and what criteria there are. And we want to know what the parameters are and what the boundaries are for what you are allowed to share.

“We want to know how genuine you are as opposed to a token gesture of turning up and sitting in a room telling us some nice things but not actually getting to the bottom of what’s going to be different next time.”

Meanwhile, NHS Dumfries and Galloway have begun taking bids to run surgeries, with a deadline of the end of January. The applications will then be evaluated by the second week of February before the end of Alba’s resignation period in May 2023.


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