Glasgow & West Scotland

Patients' anger over removal of Dumbarton GP

Dr David Neilson Image copyright Other
Image caption Dr David Neilson has been told his contract will expire in July

Patients in Dumbarton have been protesting about the removal of their local GP and the closure of their practice.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) wants to put the running of Dumbarton Health Centre out to bids from other GPs in the area.

But almost 500 people have signed a petition in just four days, urging the health board to scrap that plan.

NHSGGC said there were no change to services at present.

The health board said patients should should continue to make appointments at the practice in the usual way.

The case comes against the backdrop of a recruitment "crisis" for GPs.

A BMA Scotland survey recently revealed nearly 16% of GP practices in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area had at least one vacancy for a doctor.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Dr Neilson withdrew from his partnership with another GP at the health centre

Dr David Neilson has been a GP at Dumbarton Health Centre for 12 years and serves 2,000 patients.

He recently withdrew from his partnership with another GP.

Dr Neilson said he took the advice of the British Medical Association before doing so, but there was a mix-up over the procedures required for this.

NHSGGC has now told Dr Neilson that his contract will expire early in July and he will not be allowed to bid to take over his own practice.

Former Conservative councillor Euan Gear, who is one of Dr Neilson's patients, said: "It is quite unbelievable that the health board, through the Health and Social Care Partnership with West Dunbartonshire Council, want to go down this road.

"GP out-of-hours services being provided at present at Vale of Leven Hospital are being cut and moved away to Paisley.

"How then can it possibly be helpful to terminate one doctor's contract and spread out his work to other practices?

"I know that Dr Neilson has experienced some difficulties in the past with the health board over the arrangements for health service delivery in this area, but that is no excuse to effectively fire him from his job."

'Sustainable arrangements'

Campaigners said that if Dr Neilson was forced out of his practice and had to leave the area, one night in seven would be inadequately covered and one weekend in two would be inadequately covered at Vale of Leven.

NHSGGC said the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) had to step in to take over the running of the practice "in order to safeguard patient care, in circumstances where the former partners of the practice could not resolve their differences".

A spokesman said: "Drs Neilson and McGonagle were offered employment in the practice on a temporary basis at that time to ensure continued GP cover in the practice.

"Both GPs were aware that, following dissolution of the partnership, long-term alternative arrangements would need to put in place.

"West Dunbartonshire HSCP is now seeking to make sustainable arrangements with new GPs to ensure services can continue to be provided to the patients registered at the practice."

Jackie Baillie, Labour MSP for Dumbarton, has contacted Jane Grant, the new chief executive of NHSGGC, and chairman John Brown about Dr Neilson's removal.

Ms Baillie said: "My hope is that we can persuade the health board to think again about this. I want them to investigate this further and to reconsider their position in the matter."

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