NEARLY half of the 18 GP practices across the Kingdom which have full patient lists are in West Fife.

A Fife MSP has called the crisis “unacceptable and clearly unsustainable”. 

The seven surgeries within the area are New Park Medical Practice, Hospital Hill Surgery, Bellyeoman Practice, Linburn Road Health Centre, Valleyfield Medical Practice, Inverkeithing Medial Group and Primrose Lane Medical Practice. 

Inverkeithing Medical Group has been named as one of the practices also experiencing difficulties employing family doctors. 

New Scottish Government figures have also revealed that the number of GPs in Fife has decreased in the last decade despite the rising number of patients. 

In 2008, there was 286 and today there are 280, while patient numbers have increased from 372,984 to 383,709. 

Labour MSP Claire Baker said the Scottish Government needed to “sit up and take notice”. 

She said: “The failure to recruit GPs just confirms what we have known all along, Fife is in the midst of a GP crisis.

“This is unacceptable and clearly unsustainable in the long-term. 

“Ultimately, it is patients who will suffer as they struggle to get appointments. Yet instead of taking charge, the Government and NHS Fife would rather dodge responsibility.

“Whilst the number of GPs may have increased in the last year, it is still below the number of GPs that were employed in Fife in 2008. With many GPs in the region going part-time, we have fewer doctors having to do more work.

“We urgently need solutions to Fife’s GP crisis for patients today.”

Diana Hamilton, practice manager of Inverkeithing Medical Group, told the Press: “This is the first time we’ve had a full list and it’s very busy because of that. 

“It’s not a closed list though so we are registering family members because we don’t want those who live at the same address to be travelling miles away from each other. It could change quite quickly though if people leave the practice.”

NHS Fife medical director Dr Frances Elliot said there was a shortage of GPs across the UK and Fife was no different to other areas of the country in experiencing greater pressure on primary care services as a result.

“There are systems in place to ensure all patients in Fife have access to a GP within their local area,” she said.

“It is important to make the distinction between closed and full lists. There are no practices in Fife with closed lists; those practices with full lists continue to be allocated new patients through NHS Practitioner Services.”

While recruitment is carried out by individual practices rather than NHS Fife, the health board said they offered as much support as they could and had been able to provide clinical pharmacy, MSK physiotherapy support and access to mental health support workers, responding to individual practice need.

Pharmacists, nurses and community mental health workers are all being brought to help, and the trust is also working with the universities of St Andrews and Dundee with a view not only to encourage future graduates to choose a career in general practice but also to do so in Fife.