Labour councillors are calling on the SNP administration to explain why they blocked earlier attempts to address GP shortages in Midlothian.
This comes as Strathesk Medical Practice last week joined Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg and Newbattle practices in shutting their patient lists in the past year. And Pathhead Medical Practice has now restricted its list to ten new patients a week.
At the Midlothian Council meeting in May 2015 Labour asked the council to call on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to encourage more students into GP training, to look at ways of encouraging older GPs to defer their retirement and to encourage those who have recently retired to return. The move was defeated by the casting vote of the provost Joe Wallace.
Labour group leader Councillor Derek Milligan, who moved Labour’s motion said: “All we were doing was suggesting ways in which preventative action could be taken and the SNP blocked the motion. Now we are in a crisis that anyone could see was coming. A crisis that is only going to get worse, with restrictions or closures coming now on almost a weekly basis.”
Speaking about recent restrictions at Pathhead, Strathesk and Newbattle, Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “This is a blow, not only to those that rely on these practices, but also to surrounding practices, such as Newbyres in Gorebridge, which is already struggling to cope with ever increasing patient numbers.
“Sooner or later something has to give. We are being told by the Scottish Government that we need to allocate more and more land to housing and we are going to see areas like Gorebridge increase in population by over 70 per cent over the next few years, but we simply don’t have the infrastructure to cope.
“The SNP administration needs to waken up to this and other issues and be prepared to stand up for Midlothian’s interests even if it means challenging the SNP in Holyrood ”
A spokesperson for the SNP Midlothian group said:“The Scottish Government have recently launched a recruitment drive to attract more junior doctors to live and work in Scotland. Additionally across Scotland, funding for territorial health boards will rise by an average of 5.5 per cent next year. The Scottish Government are investing an additional £250 million to support the integration of health and social care between health boards an councils.
“SNP councillors in Midlothian continue to work hard for Midlothian residents, taking a proactive approach and working with our partners in the Scottish Government whilst Labour spend their time sniping from the sidelines.”