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Six months to fix GP issues

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By Euan Maxwell
Lockerbie and Lochmaben
Six months to fix GP issues

PATIENTS at Lockerbie and Moffat GP surgeries could face a “further six months of issues” due to an IT merger.

Lockerbie Community Council chairwoman Jan Andrews has revealed the situation following a meeting with Alba Medical Group, which operates both practices.

Jan, along with representatives from Moffat Community Council, the Annandale North elected members and MSPs all met virtually with Alba on Monday afternoon.

It came after concerns had been raised from residents in both towns about the service following the takeover by Alba, then called Lanark Medical Group, in April.

Issues have included lengthy waits for prescriptions, difficulties getting appointments, staff shortages, and complaints that “promises” made by the group have not been upheld.

A spokesman for Alba Medical Group said they are “keen to continue to develop collaborative and integrated partnerships” with the local communities and that the meeting provided an opportunity to meet the partners and senior management team and allowed for open discussion.

At the meeting an update on the current situation, as well as future plans, was provided.

The spokesman added: “This detailed additional recruitment that had been undertaken to the admin and multi-disciplinary clinical teams, the provision of support and training to admin staff as well as additional clinical, admin, managerial and leadership support from across the wider organisation.

“The ongoing challenges being faced by the group were also discussed and how this was impacting on the practices’ ability to be able to provide patient services in a sustainable way, as had been detailed in the public meetings, with a focus on the right care in the right place at the right time by the appropriate health professional for the patients’ needs.”

However, Ms Andrews told the Annandale Series she was “bitterly disappointed” and “frustrated” as Alba said the issues that residents are currently experiencing are due to a number of challenges, including an “IT merger, lacking information from the health board, backlog of work and staffing”.

She said: “I was disappointed to hear that all these problems are being caused by IT merger.

“They were told in August 2021 that they were successful getting this service. In the public meeting in February they never mentioned anything about IT problems. But now they are saying they’ve been failed by the health board.

“Lockerbie has struggled prior to these people getting interviewed for this post.

“When they came to take over here, they knew what the script was. They knew we were struggling and having IT problems or a backlog of patients. They knew what they were taking on.”

Ms Andrews stated that during the meeting an Alba official said that IT issues could take another six months to get sorted.

She added: “They say it’ll be another six months, but in the meantime what happens here?

“This is a concern for us given that the surgery has been been taken over from the April 1 and it’s still not up and running.

“This is obviously having a detrimental effect on the practice and when I hear comments like it could take a further six months to be addressed, it’s frustrating.

“I’m really struggling to understand the issues Lockerbie is being subjected to. Has this always been a problem for the Lockerbie practice, the IT merger? Are there timescales when all the above issues are to be resolved?

“Why’s it so difficult to bring Lockerbie up to the standard that would be required to serve members of the public?

“This is about the community and I’m trying to be a voice for the people who are suffering. I’m still getting complaints about this.”

Meanwhile, Annandale North Councillor Carolyne Wilson stated that the meeting was a “good and welcomed opportunity” to be able to find out about the practice’s plans for the future.

She added: “Also, a number of concerns have been raised and I’m certainly committed to working with the community and the GP practice to make sure those concerns are dealt with as soon as possible and local people get the service they need and deserve.”

Alba have confirmed that further engagement with local groups will be undertaken in the near future, as well as direct communication to patients.

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