NHS Fife have been accused of silencing politicians over the true extent of the GP crisis facing the Kingdom.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker says the health board released a statement to elected members about the recruitment crisis facing practices but marked it ‘confidential’.

The Labour politician said that meant MSPs could not raise the contents directly with constituents or at parliament and urged the board to be honest with the public.

However, NHS Fife insisted it had been “open and transparent” about the challenges in recruiting doctors and that how politicians used the information was “at their discretion”.

Ms Baker said the letter detailed the number of patient lists that are full along with practices that have struggled for over a year to fill vacancies.

She said: “It is clear to everyone that Fife is in the middle of a GP crisis. Yet rather than facing up to this, NHS Fife would rather try to silence politicians from speaking out.

“Despite knowing how many full lists there are, all Fife politicians are gagged by claims that the information is confidential. We are told that one such surgery is considered to be in ‘a high risk situation’ but I cannot name where. This is outrageous and deeply damaging to relationships between the board, local politicians and patients.

“NHS Fife is a public body and as such should be as open and transparent as possible. Hiding statistics and figures behind a ‘confidential’ clause goes against this and there must be an immediate rethink.

“Fife has a right to know what is happening in their NHS and they have a right to know what action is being taken to address this growing GP crisis. Politicians must no longer be silenced.”

Paul Hawkins, NHS Fife chief executive, said GP recruitment difficulties was a national issue and stated: “Ms Baker, along with all of Fife’s MP’s and MSP’s, meet on a regular basis with the NHS Fife chair and chief executive. These meetings are always well attended and the agenda and topics discussed are largely driven by the politicians.

“NHS Fife has routinely released position statements to all politicians representing the Kingdom over the last three years as part of these meetings. These statements are based on information supplied by GP practices in Fife experiencing recruitment difficulties.

“As GP practices in Scotland are independent practitioners with contracted work from NHS boards, the practices are ultimately responsible for their own recruitment and retention.

"As a result the position statements are marked confidential on the basis that they could be deemed to contain commercially sensitive information about GP practices. How politicians choose to use this information is at their discretion.”

Mr Hawkins said they were happy to meet Ms Baker “so we can give assurance or clarify any issues” but had not yet received a request. He added that board meetings were open to everyone with dates and papers available at: nhsfife.org/board meetings.”