Health bosses have revealed plans for a crisis-hit Aberdeen medical centre to continue providing services.
Last year the entire staff of nine doctors at Old Aberdeen medical practice walked out after plans to tender it and five others in the city out to be run by a GP-led company emerged.
The doctors claimed the practice was being “destroyed” by the plans – despite the ownership model being typical of medical centres across Scotland.
The Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) has now confirmed clinical services at Old Aberdeen will be taken over by staff from Denburn medical practice for the next six months while a suitable operator is found.
A spokesman for the partnership said: “The IJB (integration joint board) decided that it would be best for patients and for the staff for the six practices to be run by GP partners rather than directly by ACHSCP, to pave the way for innovative new ways of delivering GP services and to make practices more sustainable by working more closely together.
“ACHSCP will now continue to progress the procurement process to find suitable parties (GPs) to run the practices – together, individually or in combinations – and to work with all staff to deliver new and even better ways of providing health care services in the areas covered by the six GP practices and across the city.”
A campaign by the Old Aberdeen medics have won significant public support, and a petition calling for the decision to be reversed has so far attracted more than 1,000 signatures.
In an open letter to health bosses in the north-east, the doctors – who are now working their resignation – accused health chiefs of failing to respect the wishes of patients at the practice.
They wrote: “The practice which we know and hold in high regard has been destroyed, unnecessarily.
“We were only able to learn of this move due to recent press coverage. Since then, many troubling aspects surrounding the process behind the decision and staff involved with it have come to light.
“We have tried to raise your attention to these issues in separate communications, but have received nothing which described as a meaningful response in any reasonable sense.
“This whole process has demonstrated, at best, a remarkable lack of due diligence from the staff charged with overseeing it.
“There are also concerns about possible complicity from those involved in the process, in what essentially amounts to a scheme which will damage public healthcare in order to benefit a few GP partners in influential positions in the overseeing committees.
“Beyond any doubt, there has been a clear failure on your parts to show respect for the wishes of the public who fund you.”
The doctors previously wrote to health secretary Jeane Freeman on the issue, and Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart – also a government minister – urged his SNP colleague to make sure their voices were listened to.
In response to the interim measures, Mr Stewart said: “This is not ideal and although there is now an interim arrangement in place to serve patients, many will be angered by this situation. I am extremely disappointed about the poor level of communication that there has been during this entire affair.
“I am still awaiting answers to a number of questions that I posed on behalf of constituents at a meeting I had with the Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership on Friday and I have been assured that responses will be forthcoming. However, it would have been better if all of this information had been sent to all interested parties at a much earlier stage.
“I do hope that talks can be held between the Health and Social Care Partnership and the Old Aberdeen practitioners to see if a compromise agreement about future delivery can be reached for the good of all concerned, particularly patients.”