Progress being made on surgery re-opening

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PROGRESS on the potential re-opening of Tarves surgery has been hailed as a significant step forward, after Grampian Health Board agreed a new panel to reconsider the issue.

Local MSP Alex Salmond told the Times that a meeting on Monday had paved the way for a new panel to consider reinstating dispensing services at Pitmedden, which had been withdrawn after the opening of a new pharmacy in Tarves. According to representatives of Haddo Medical Group, the subsequent loss of dispensing revenues had forced the group to close the village surgery.

However, Haddo Medical Group have indicated that a re-instatement of dispensing rights in Pitmedden could pave the way towards a re-opening of the facility. After a significant campaign by local residents, Grampian Health Board have agreed to re-visit the withdrawal of dispensing services, with a view towards securing the Tarves surgery’s future.

Mr Salmond said: “I have held a further meeting with the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Health Board and I am satisfied that the Panel and process which will look at this matter again will be properly and independently constituted and carried forward.

“I will be submitting evidence to the Group and I know that the Community Councils will want to do so also. I am confident that a way will be found to restore the ability to receive GP services and collect medicines across the communities of Tarves, Pitmedden and Udny.

“The Health Board is rightly sensitive to the public concern and is responding properly, with an undertaking of effective action. Both myself and, I am sure, other community representatives will be watching the matter closely with the expectation of a positive result by the end of the year.”

A previous meeting with NHS Grampian last month had led to agreement between the parties present that situation as it is was ‘unsatisfactory’ and that

Local representatives were more guarded in their enthusiasm, saying that the move was only the first step towards getting the Tarves surgery re-opened.

Community Council chairman Bob Davidson told the Times: “The Community Council will be submitting our own evidence to the panel. This is news, but it will only be good news when the doctors’ surgery re-opens.

“We will be submitting evidence in favour of re-instating dispensing services at Pitmedden, with a view towards getting the surgery re-opened as soon as possible. We now have an absurd situation where people in Pitmedden have to travel to Tarves to obtain precriptions, but people in Tarves have to travel to Pitmedden to see a doctor. Where once people could have walked, they now have to get a lift, a taxi or a bus to go either to the doctors or to pick up their prescriptions. We’re also still awaiting a response from the new health minister regarding the government’s policies on rural GP dispensing.

“We really hope common sense will prevail.”

Cllr Paul Johnston echoed his sentiments, urging responses from both NHS Grampian and the Health Minister.

He said: “We are still awaiting a written confirmation from NHS Grampian regarding the panel, and also a response from the health minister on the government’s policies relating to rural GPs.

“Patients are having severe difficulty accessing a doctor and - in turn - getting their prescriptions. We are grateful for support from MSPs of all parties on the matter, but we need co-operation from NHS Grampian.”