FAMILY doctors in Arbroath have called on the health board to take over the running of a GP practice which is facing closure in July.

They said they have tabled a “detailed and credible offer” to NHS Tayside which would save jobs and safeguard primary care services for 6500 patients currently registered with the Abbey Health Centre in Arbroath.

Two of the practice’s three GP partners are due to retire on July 31.With little prospect recruiting replacements, they gave NHS Tayside six months notice back in January that the practice would be wound up.

NHS Tayside insists that it is working to find a solution, but the Herald understands that as of this week support staff employed by the surgery including receptionists and practice nurses have begun receiving letters of redundancy.

READ MORE: Uncertainty for Arbroath patients as deadline for GP practice closure looms 

MSP Maurice Golden, who lives in Tayside and is standing for election to the Angus South constituency in 2021, said patients have also contacted him in tears about the situation.

Mr Golden said: “We must retain all our valuable nursing staff during this global pandemic and it seems ludicrous that they face losing their jobs when we need them most.

“Patients have contacted me distressed and in tears as they aren’t getting a straight answer as to what is going to happen.

“I appreciate the difficulties of recruiting and retaining GPs but the Abbey Health Centre provides a lifeline service which must continue.

“We need swift and decisive action so that patients can receive the care and treatment they need and our precious NHS staff are able to continue providing an essential service.”

After the Herald reported on the crisis on Monday, a group of local GPs - including those based at the Abbey Health Centre - said they have been in talks with NHS Tayside about a rescue option which would see the health board take over financial responsibility for the practice.

This model, known as a ‘2C’ practice, has become increasingly common as GP practices across Scotland have folded.

However, the GPs said their plan would see them collaborate to provide patient care, easing the burden for NHS Tayside of having to attract new salaried GPs to man the service.

Under this arrangement, the GPs from neighbouring practices would spend part of their time working at the Abbey Health Centre.

They stressed their own practices were already too full to simply absorb the extra patients onto their lists.

READ MORE: Number of GP partners in Scotland falls to record low 

In a joint statement to the Herald, the doctors from Abbey Health Centre, Springfield Medical Centres (East and West) in Arbroath, Arbroath Medical Centre and Friockheim Health Centre, said they “agree fully with Mr Golden’s sentiments and would appreciate a clear timescale for a decision from NHS Tayside and Angus Health and Social Care Partnership”.

They said they have “worked together to support a proposal to the health board to enable them to take over the practice therefore retaining the current well organised and popular team”.

They added: “NHS Tayside have a detailed and credible offer on the table from the practices to secure the future provision of general practice for all patients in Arbroath but to succeed, this requires NHS Tayside to secure the Abbey Health Centre as a GP practice directly run by the health board.

“This is required to enable other practices to support NHS Tayside in providing high quality care to local residents.

“We can confirm that none of the practices are in a position to support distribution of the patients currently registered with Abbey Health Centre to their lists and in fact this option is likely to push these practices into the same position that Abbey found themselves in at the start of the year.”

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A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said it was “working closely” with the GPs and insisted that patients will continue to have access to GPs after July 31.

She added: “Positive discussions are continuing and all parties are focused on bringing together resources from the Angus HSCP, NHS Tayside and the other GP practices to deliver care and treatment services which meet the needs of the local population. These resources include identifying an appropriate number of GP sessions, as well as making sure other primary care services can be delivered safely and sustainably.”