RESIDENTS across Cumnock and Doon Valley have been raising concerns about access to some GP services.

GP surgeries in Mauchline, Ochiltree and Dalrymple are all run as smaller practices which operate as a branch of a larger practice based elsewhere.

As a result, there is currently a three-week wait for GP appointments in Mauchline and a GP is only present in Ochiltree surgery – which has appointments available on a Tuesday and Friday – if an appointment has been made.

All appointments at Dalrymple surgery are reserved for Dalrymple residents but the practice is only open on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings and recent staff illnesses have meant fewer appointments were available than normal.

South Scotland MSP Brian Whittle has written to the chief executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran about some of the concerns.

Following a reply from the health board, Mr Whittle said: “With a lack of GPs in the health service putting pressure on remaining surgeries, more small practices are having to merge with neighbours.

“GPs are the first point of contact for many people with the health service and it’s vital the public can get an appointment in a reasonable amount of time.

“I hope the information I’ve obtained from NHS Ayrshire & Arran about GP services in Dalrymple, Ochiltree and Mauchline is useful to those communities.”

Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP Jeane Freeman – cabinet secretary for health and sport – said: “The Scottish Government has announced a range measures to improve recruitment and retention of GPs across Scotland.

“Recruitment concerns are not unique to Scotland, however the Government’s commitment to invest £7.5 million, including expanding the remote and rural incentive scheme and relocation funds, should have a real impact locally.

“The new GP contract, a historic joint agreement between the Scottish Government and the BMA, will ensure that GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, it will help cut doctors’ overall workload and make general practice an even more attractive career prospect.”

“However we want to go further. As multi-disciplinary teams are developed further including nurses, physiotherapists, community mental health workers, and pharmacists within GP practices, our ambition is to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 to ensure a sustainable service for the future.”