THERE are no easy answers to the problems faced by GP practices in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area in attracting new doctors.

Practices in Cowdenbeath, Kelty, Lochgelly, Benarty and Cardenden have all experienced problems in finding new GPs from time to time but Kelty born MSP Claire Baker feels it is not a problem that is going to go away after asking a question on the issue at Holyrood on Wednesday.

The Scottish Government, she said, has admitted that Fife faces “significant issues…with GP recruitment and retention” as they failed to give their confidence to the three closed out-of-hour services re-opening when reviewed in two months’ time.

The admission of the challenges facing NHS Fife to recruit GPs in the Kingdom came in response to a question by Claire Baker MSP during Health Questions.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP was raising the decision to suspend overnight out-of-hours services in Dunfermline, St Andrews and Glenrothes which affects the whole of the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area.

Highlighting the growing difficulties ensuring clinical cover by both GPs and nurses as one of the main reasons given by the Director of Health and Social Care for the out-of-hour suspensions, the Scottish Labour politician highlighted the national shortages as a 'result of the Scottish Government’s failure to recruit and retain'.

Upon the closure of the three services in April, Fife Health and Social Care wrote to local MSPs saying they would review the situation in three months.

Speaking after the question, Claire Baker MSP said: “We have known for some time that Fife is facing a crisis in recruiting and retaining GPs. If there are well known difficulties with practices struggling to recruit GPs for during the day, it is unsurprising that finding cover at night is even harder.

“I have been raising these concerns for some time and have been warning that the Government’s failure to address these shortages would have consequences for patients in Fife.

“What we are now seeing is that these consequences are starting to hit patients and the temporary closures of the out-of-hours services in Dunfermline, St Andrews and Glenrothes is just part of this".

Ms Baker added: “Whilst the lack of consultation and the suddenness of these closures is concerning and raises legitimate criticisms of Fife Health and Social Care, the Scottish Government must accept their own responsibility.

“There are still many GP practices across Fife facing difficulties in recruiting full time GPs, instead relying on locums or being under the control of the health board. The out-of-hours services are just the latest services to be added to this list.

“The reality is that these services won’t re-open without GPs and full clinical cover. The Scottish Government has got to get a grip on the national shortages facing Fife and Scotland to achieve this.”