Turriff community expresses concern over healthcare provision

Concerns have been raised about access to the GP’s practice and Minor Injury Unit in Turriff.

A crowded Baden Powell Center saw more than 200 local residents attend a town hall meeting on Monday evening, called by local MP David Duguid to voice community concerns over the provision of health care.

Three main issues were raised, namely access to the local medical practice, the minor injury unit in Turriff and ambulance coverage.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Duguid said: ‘The idea behind this meeting was to have a session where people in and around Turriff could voice your concerns and raise any issues you have with the health service, provision of ambulances and minor injury unit.

“The idea was to have representatives here to speak on their behalf – I had no response from the Scottish Ambulance Service, Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership had no one available as they have so much leave to currently (although they provided a statement) and Turriff Medical Practice also declined as they wanted to meet with me privately prior to the meeting, and to be fair we gave them fairly short notice as we were having issues to contact them, as some of you have probably seen.

“In order to help me move the issues forward, I am delighted to welcome MSP Gillian Martin and fellow MSP Tess Whyte who will also take your issues forward.”

Audience member Stewart Whyte was the first to speak of his own experience: “First of all, I have to say I’m devastated that those who were asked to attend didn’t show up,” a comment which was applauded by everyone in the room, “I’m worried none of them are committed to Turriff Hospital and it’s going to be death by a thousand cuts until they say they is no longer viable and that we can close it.

“I wanted to hear from them that they appreciate the hospital, but I fear the opportunities for Turriff are being missed.

“I had to travel to get physiotherapy – to Fraserburgh and Huntly why don’t people there have to travel to Turriff for specialist services, it could be screening, mental health or support cancer – there’s a missed opportunity and I’m afraid they’re not committed to the hospital and there’s no one here to tell us that opinion is wrong.”

Examples of issues raised by the public included access to GPs, online consultation and the continued use of Covid protocols in relation to the waiting room which, as one person put it: “Even if you go through all the hoops and finally get an appointment, you have to get permission to enter the building, and when you enter there is no one, more than two people in the waiting room , this is unheard of”, which also received unilateral recognition from the public.

During the meetings, MSP Gillian Martin highlighted her own situation as she is registered with a practice in Dyce.

Their system still allows patients who call for appointments to look past the day of contact and agree on a future time, situation, she said. “Maybe old fashioned but seems to work.”

She also said the phone system, although used in all practices, was manageable and could be changed to suit configurations, noting the issue with Inverurie’s system dropping calls after 30 minutes.

She says; “In Turriff, Inverurie and Meldrum there’s this system where you have to phone at a certain time of day and if you don’t come through or can’t phone at that time you’ll never get an appointment. -you.

“That’s why we need to have practice managers here to answer questions.

“Is your practice patient-centric or do you have a limited capacity that you are trying to manage – this system is not patient-centric.”

She went on to explain that the Holyrood Health Committee which she chairs and of which Tess Whyte is also a member has just concluded a survey of primary care provision and that the main issue raised by all respondents was the inability to access patient records (e.g., for pharmacists, nurses) so that it caused a continued bottleneck in practices when treatment and advice could be sought elsewhere.

MP David Duguid called the meeting to hear feedback from the community.
MP David Duguid called the meeting to hear feedback from the community.

On the issues surrounding Minor Injury Units Reading the AHSCP statement on the disposition of Minor Injury Units, Mr Duguid quoted: “The Minor Injury Service in Aberdeenshire is in the process of re-mobilising, we are We are currently focusing on ensuring that staff in each unit have the necessary training and experience to provide the service.

“The Minor Injury Service in accordance with the national decision to schedule urgent care appointments must now be accessible by calling NHS 24 on 111 where appointments will be assessed and may not be at the unit the closer.”

Examples were cited by the audience of phoning 11 and being sent to Huntly or Fraserburgh when there is no way to get there without your own transport.

People with heavy bleeding should drive to Banff and there are concerns about the area being high risk due to the town’s agriculture and meat processing plant.

Mr Duguid asked the room: ‘Has anyone used the 111 process and actually been processed in Turriff?’

To the derision of the room, not a single hand went up.

Ambulance coverage for the city has been a long-standing problem and the lack of supply dates back many years.

Several examples were given, including an almost 24-hour wait for help, a lack of availability during cardiac incidents, and what many saw as ‘apologies’ for the inability to station a unit in Turriff .

Councilor Anne Stirling, who sits on the Joint Integration Council, addressed the assembly and said work was being done on the provision of ambulances and that it was ‘positive’ but that ‘c It is up to the Scottish Ambulance Service to make its plans public”.

The work of the Sandpiper Trust first responders was praised by local volunteer Ian Hendry who explained how the system works while appealing for more volunteers to come forward.

MSPs pointed to Scottish Fire and Rescue first response training, which they said meant crews were able to help, but the local shift commander told them in no uncertain terms that it was not. the case and that they had been trained and had acquired the equipment to do so, they had been removed after a short period of time due to a dispute raised by their union and they had not participated since the pre-lockdown .

Given the right to respond to the meeting, GP Partners of Turruff Medical Practice replied, “As we were not present at the meeting, we are unable to comment on anything that was discussed.

“We are pleased that patients continue to contact the practice with their concerns directly to us.”


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