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Blair Atholl Doctors’ Surgery Closure

The Blair Atholl Doctors’ Surgery which has been closed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic is set to close permanently.  The decision has been made by the Atholl Medical Centre who are responsible for providing the branch Surgery.

A proposal regarding the closure of the centre was published in an issue of the Quair last year in which the partners of the Atholl Medical Centre sighted that “Unfortunately during the pandemic the premises have sustained significant damage from damp and dilapidation making the site even less suitable for any clinical use.”

Going on they say “Over the past few years the doctors have had increasing concerns regarding the general suitability of the branch surgery premises, and about the safety of working alone in the building in the event of a medical or other emergency situation.”

The proposal further reads “Additionally, the lack of applicants following the last three GPs leaving/retiring from the practice means the remaining partners at Atholl Medical Centre are significantly understaffed and would struggle to meet the demands of the eventual reopening of the branch surgery.”

“Having carefully considered all the factors, the partners have sadly concluded that the practice would find it almost impossible to provide services from the branch surgery again. We are therefore making a proposal for it to close.”

Finishing up they write “After many years of providing services at the branch surgery, we have not reached this conclusion lightly. We are very aware that this will be a significant loss for Blair Atholl.”

Following the Blair Atholl and Struan Community Council in which the matter was discussed in detail. A letter was sent from the Community Council to the practice manager Lavinia Peebles in which the community council wrote, “As you are aware, the CC carried out a consultation for 4 weeks in December, inviting people to respond to a petition placed in the two village shops.

“119 people signed the petition, and many more expressed their deep concern about the current lack of health provision in a community which has a high percentage of older people, people with health-related problems, and those without access to private transport.”

“Given the poor public transport connections between the village and its surrounding neighbourhood and Pitlochry, this situation is particularly troubling.”

Going on the letter stated “The CC meeting acknowledged that provision of a branch surgery in Blair Atholl is part of the current contract between the Atholl Medical Centre and NHS Tayside. It was further recognised that, as we come out of the Covid crisis and normal services resume, a decision will have to be made about what to do about the Blair Atholl surgery.”

The letter finished with a request to the Atholl Medical Centre which read, “We would therefore ask, going forward, that instead of seeking to close the branch surgery, you seek a suspension to allow us to explore further what might be put in place to enable the branch surgery to reopen. A review in, for example, 12 months, should give us time to get all the necessary supports in place, including key worker housing, improved premises, and, with us all working together, GP provision too.”

In response to this letter a email was sent from the practice manager Lavinia Peeble to the community council which read “We have discussed this again at length at our practice meeting on Wednesday evening and feel we are unable to reconsider our previous decision.”

“We would reiterate the main reasons for this decision as previously reported are the unsuitability of the premises, the very real lack of GPs, the unacceptable lone working situation and lack of resource for providing admin staff to negate this.”

“Unfortunately we feel that it is highly unrealistic that it will be possible to address each of these issues, all of which need to be resolved before we would be able to broach the provision of a branch surgery in Blair Atholl again. It would be misleading to delay submitting our proposal knowing that we will almost certainly still be in the same situation twelve months from now.”

“We are happy to stay in communication with you on any positive changes that may arise in the future.”

Heartland FM have approached Atholl Medical Centre for a comment but have not received a response.

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