Talk of Midlothian health crisis played down

Newbattle Medical Practice, Mayfield
Newbattle Medical Practice, Mayfield

The debate over health services in Midlothian rumbled on last week at the full council meeting, with talk of a crisis played down by the SNP.

After council leader Catherine Johnstone raised a motion highlighting the Scottish Government’s recruitment drive for more junior doctors and a 5.5 per cent rise in funding to health boards, Labour group leader Councillor Derek Milligan again asked why his party’s motion raised last May calling on the council to ask the Scottish Government to take urgent action to recruit more GPs was not backed by SNP councillors.

He said: “I welcome any junior doctors and any recruitment.

“If you are trying to cover up to the public that there is no crisis, then it’s kidology.

“It’s a crisis across Scotland and indeed in Midlothian.

“Yes, it’s important to continue to show we support our doctors.

“Therefore I think it’s quite a pity that the SNP couldn’t have joined with us last year when we put this forward.

“In real terms it’s not going up, it’s just being paid in a different way.

“It’s a bit of a fudge.

“I suppose it’s better late than never that we have the SNP admitting that there is a crisis.”

SNP councillors hit back, with Councillor Kelly Parry calling on unity in the chamber to deal with the issue.

She said: “All councillors around the table would like to help patients.

“I think this is the right way to do it.

“If you do really want to make improvements then work with us and lets take a more positive approach instead of political point scoring.

“Lets both take the same stance on this in a positive way.”

Councillor Lisa Beattie (SNP) accused Labour of sending out the wrong message to local people about the state of the NHS in Midlothian.

She said: “I support the comments made about finding a positive way forward.

“The message that talk of a crisis sends to the residents of Midlothian is the wrong one.

“To call this a crisis would be an exaggeration in the extreme.

“You just have to look south of the border to see what a crisis looks like.”

The heated debate at Midlothian House followed Strathesk Medical Practice recently becoming the fourth Midlothian surgery to shut its list to new patients in the past year, while Pathhead Medical Practice announced that it will take on a maximum of ten new patients a week.

The Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg and Newbattle surgeries have also closed their lists to new patients in the past year.