FIFE politicians have pressed the Scottish Government over lack of access to face-to-face GP appointments.

Numerous constituents have been in touch with Labour MSP Alex Rowley over the issue.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was told that the constituents who had contacted Rowley were unable to get an appointment to see a GP or medical staff but ended up severely ill at hospital later putting an even great strain on the hospital services.

"People who need to see a GP or a medical person should be able to do so", was the challenge to Mr Yousaf by the Mid-Scotland Fife MSP.

In response, the Cabinet Secretary for Health said: “I expect an increase in the number of face-to-face appointments.

"That is the desire of the Government, but we also have to take into account a clinician’s own decision, because neither I nor Mr Rowley should determine when a patient should be seen face to face.

"That said, I agree with his premise that an individual who requires a face-to-face appointment should get one.”

Going forward its been suggested by the Scottish Government that there will be a blended model but with more in-person appointments.

Rowley added: “I believe there is a duty on government to ensure that where someone is feeling ill and wants to see a medically qualified person then they should be able to do so.

"I understand that all levels of our NHS have been under pressure but the levels of concern over GP practices refusing to see people who are ill is growing and must be addressed, otherwise it will just add to even more pressure on our hospitals.”

The Scottish Government has recently published its recovery plan, which seeks to fully restore face to face consultations in GP surgeries and other primary care services as a priority.

Fife Health & Social Care Partnership are working with all general practices across Fife, to ensure that face-to-face appointments are being offered when this is clinically indicated.

NHS Fife Medical Director, Dr Christopher McKenna, said: “Our local GPs, and indeed the healthcare system as a whole, remain under significant strain due to unprecedented levels of demand. Despite this, the proportion of face-to-face appointments continues to increase as it has for many months.

“Many thousands of face-to-face appointments continue to be provided each week in Fife and such consultations will very likely form part of a blended approach moving forward alongside technology-supported appointments, which allow practices to see greater numbers of patients and enable longer consultations for those people with more complex conditions. There are very many patients also who prefer the flexibility of consultations offered by telephone or video call.

“While the proportion of face-to-face appointments is continuing to increase, the necessity for enhanced infection control measures and distancing within waiting areas makes it very challenging for practices to offer the same volume of face-to-face consultations available prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”