Out-of-hours GPs on the agenda

NHS Borders has finally agreed to a public meeting in Berwickshire to discuss centralisation of out-of-hours GP services, three months after it happened.

Chairman John Raine will attend a meeting of Duns Community Council in the council chambers, Newtown Street, on Tuesday, April 1, at 7pm.

There has been widespread concern ever since it became public knowledge that there will no longer be a GP based at Duns to cover evening and weekend calls. NHS Borders has found it increasingly difficult to recruit doctors prepared to work the out-of-hours shifts and at the beginning of the year withdrew GPs from Duns, Hawick and Kelso.

What angered people was that there was no consultation and little effort made by NHS Borders to tell people about the change, until they were challenged by the media.

Their response was that there wasn’t time to consult as it was an emergency situation and they have assured Health Minister Alex Neil that they are “taking steps to develop a future model that is more resilient and mitigates the risks that the current service has been facing” and that “this will involve a full engagement exercise with the public”.

At a meeting of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council community councillors and members of the public were adamant that NHS Borders should be pressed to immediately respond to the need to reinforce the service for areas that are remote from Borders General Hospital. And at a meeting of the Berwickshire Area Forum representatives from a majority of community councils asked for NHS Borders to attend a future meeting because of the widespread concern about the service.