Fight to reopen GP clinics as locals forced to take four-hour round-trip

Communities say they feel 'abandoned' with vulnerable people such as the elderly hit hardest by closures.

Campaigners calling for two Moray GP surgeries to be reopened say they’ll continue their fight for better healthcare in their communities.

Health bosses met this week to discuss medical provision in Hopeman and Burghead after the local doctors’ were closed during Covid. 

Both villages are less that ten miles from Elgin, where the Save Our Surgeries group gathered on Thursday to protest against the move.

They have been pushing to have their local GPs reopened, after patients were moved to the Moray Coast Health Centre in Lossiemouth during the pandemic.

They say with no direct public bus service it can take a four-hour round-trip for a ten minute consultation.

Liz McKnockiter from the Burghead and Cummingston Community Council said: “We have been abandoned and it discriminates against the elderly and pregnant women, women with young families. It’s not fair.”

The Moray Integration Joint Board met at the local authority on Thursday to discuss the issue.

They say a community bus scheme will transport those who can’t get to appointments in Lossiemouth. 

But campaigners say this only operates at 2.30pm and isn’t suitable for everyone.

They want access to appointments in their local area.

Ness Tunggal from Save Our Surgeries said: “What we want is for the people that make the decisions to start discussing again the model of care that they are pushing on the community. It’s not working.”

“We need to look for something closer to the community and this will be in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Scottish Government with the British Medical Association.

“This will be in line with MIJB strategy planning and Locality planning in placing patients at the centre of their decision.”

The Moray Integration Joint Board said it’s providing healthcare in a number of ways and wants to work with communities.

Bosses have offered to meet campaigners next week. 

Simon Bokor-Ingram from the Board said: “There’s a lot happening in the locality already to deliver services locally. There’s care workers, community nurses, GP home visits.

“What we are doing is looking at expanding the ways in which people can access services but transport is really important.

“I think we can demonstrate we have been looking hard to solve those issues.”

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