The Angus village of Friockheim is like so many up and down Scotland.
Its high street has a busy shop, pubs, a café and a chemist. It’s even got plenty of newbuild housing.
But it does not have a doctors’ surgery.
Nearly 3,000 patients registered at the village’s surgery were told last year that it would be closing as no GP could be recruited to replace the retiring doctor.
The news had a devastating impact on the local community.
Pensioner Jane Easton and her sister, Helen, moved to the village because they thought it would be a place they could grow old, with the safety net of a nearby GP.
Ms Easton told STV News: “The doctor was on the doorstep, lived in the village, so that if anything happened, even if you had a small emergency or something, you could always phone her and she would advise you what to do. And that is one of the reasons why we picked the village.”
Patients have been reallocated to surgeries across the local area. But for Ms Easton – who has mobility issues – it’s left her facing a lengthy journey every time she needs to see her new GP, who is based more than six miles away in Arbroath.
“I can take a bus and then I can walk if I’m not really sore or I have to take a taxi,” she said. “It’s £19 for a taxi and I can’t afford that really. I really do struggle to get there on days where the pain, arthritis, is so painful. But if you have to go to the doctors, you have to go to the doctors,” Jane adds.
At the time of the Friockheim practice’s closure, NHS Tayside said: “We are trying to make the transfer as seamless and easy for patients and, therefore, they do not need to do anything.
“NHS Tayside will register patients with another GP local to where they live and they will automatically transfer on June 1 to their new practice.
“We will write to patients again very soon to give the details of their new GP and some more information about the transfer.”
But those efforts have been of little comfort to Ms Easton, who admits she has been left with a difficult choice.
She either stays in what she wanted to be the home for the rest of her life, or she moves to be nearer a service that she feels is essential.
“I sometimes wish we had bought something in Dundee,” she said. “Because there would be more chance of getting a doctor than in the village where we wanted to live. It’s only because the surgery had such a great reputation that we decided to move.”
For the full story on Scotland’s GP crisis, watch Scotland Tonight on the STV Player.
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