Petition to save Friockheim Health Centre gathers support

Friockheim Health Centre is due to close at the end of May, affecting 3500 patients. (Wallace Ferrier)Friockheim Health Centre is due to close at the end of May, affecting 3500 patients. (Wallace Ferrier)
Friockheim Health Centre is due to close at the end of May, affecting 3500 patients. (Wallace Ferrier)
A petition set up to try to reverse the planned closure of Friockheim Health Centre has attracted more than 1500 signatures in less than a week.

The centre is due to close at the end of May due to a shortage of GPs. In a letter to patients, Dr Karen Scallen said she would be standing down on May 31 due to a failure to recruit a replacement for a partner GP who retired at the end of April last year.

The closure affects 3500 patients in the Friockheim area who were advised of the closure by NHS Tayside.

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Dr Scallan said: “The practice has been advertising for a replacement partner for nearly two years now without success.

“We have continued to operate with a salaried GP and some locum GP cover since May 2021. Whilst we had good cover during the last few months, we are finding it more difficult to obtain locum GP cover for the next few months due to the severe shortage of GPs generally.”

Since the confirmation of the closure, local woman Jennifer Cameron has set a petition on to try to reverse the closure, saying: “It’s an invaluable hub within the village of Friockheim and for people around the rural area.

"We can’t stand by to see people who don’t drive, or are unable to travel to get to a doctor’s further afield, and a village lose an invaluable health centre and possibly the chemist if the health centre is forced to close.”

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The petition has received the backing of Angus South MSP Graeme Dey, who said he is seeking a meeting with NHS Tayside

North East region Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden also said: "Friockheim health centre serves a large rural population in south Angus and is a growing, thriving village. It is vital that it remains open to them after May.

"Any change would doubtless also have a knock-on effect to surgeries in Forfar and Arbroath. Services there are already stretched.

An NHS Tayside spokeperson said: “NHS Tayside’s main priority is to ensure that patients who are currently registered at the Friockheim Health Centre have continued access to a local GP.

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“NHS Tayside and Angus Health and Social Care Partnership are working together to ensure that patients can access local GP and primary care services from June 1.”

“We will continue to engage with patients in Friockheim and the surrounding area as plans progress to deliver safe and sustainable primary care services in the local area.”