Plans to close rural GP clinic as locals face 12-mile trip to see doctor

Fears for elderly and people with long-term health conditions living in Perthshire village as clinic set to close.

Residents of a rural Perthshire village are worried about their ability to access medical care as the community’s surgery looks set to close.

Plans to shut Methven’s centre have been made public, four years after bosses assured patients it would stay open.

The Victoria Practice has lodged a notice of intention to close the clinic with patients set to be moved to its Glover Street surgery six miles away in Perth.

It will see more than 10,000 patients registered at one centre – the most for a practice with just one facility – in Perth and Kinross.

Alan Lewis lives next to the practice.

He said: “As someone’s who’s lived in Methven for 30 years, I’m not very happy.

“You don’t just have Methven, you’ve got all the surrounding little villages like Harrietfield and places like that.

“This place is needed and it will be in the future.”

Bosses informed patients of the plans to move services to Perth this week as the most sustainable option, blaming staffing issues and ongoing challenges following the pandemic.

They insisted the closure would not impact anyone who requires home visits.

Feedback is now being taken from patients on the proposed changes before a final decision is made, expected at the end of the year.

Sarah Fergusson suffers from fibromyalgia, which can leave her in severe pain and in need of a doctor.

“On days when I’m at my worst, I won’t leave my house because I wouldn’t be able to get down the steps and back up,” she said.

“It’s always a comfort knowing your doctor is not far away and I have had them visit me in the house when I’ve been really bad with it.

“My concern is for elderly residents and people with long-term health conditions.”

Sarah Fergusson, pictured with her son, has fibromyalgia

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside Primary Care Services said, “Victoria Practice, based in Glover Street Medical Centre in Perth, has notified NHS Tayside Primary Care service of their application to vary their contract and close their branch surgery in Methven.  

“The branch surgery temporarily transferred all services from the Methven branch surgery to Victoria Practice in March 2020 until September 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that all services were provided at Victoria Practice during this period. 

“As a result of ongoing recruitment challenges and concerns about the suitability of the branch surgery, the GP practice is now proposing to reinstate this arrangement and close the Methven branch surgery on a permanent basis with the transfer of all services to Victoria Practice.    

“Victoria Practice and Perth and Kinross HSCP are working together to engage with patients and the local community about this proposal and seek their views on what it could mean for them.   

“Notification of the situation has been posted on the Practices website and social media platforms. A letter and frequently asked questions document has been sent by the Practice to all patients who have attended the Methven branch surgery over the past five years, to provide more information about the proposal and advise how they can give feedback about the proposed changes.

“Comment boxes will also be available at a number of locations in the local area so patients or community members can give feedback.”  

The engagement period will run from Monday August 7 to Monday September 4.

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