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      Uist and Benbecula News

Benbecula GP Kate Dawson has spoken out about the perilous financial background behind the decision to transfer the practice to Health Board control last month.

In an interview with The Doctor, the British Medical Association’s award-winning magazine, Dr Dawson lays bare why she and Dr Mark Johnson decided to hand back their medical practice contract.

The bottom line is that becoming a GP partner is now “unattractive and financially risky.”

A decade ago, the practice, then four GPs strong, was a high-earning, thriving practice. It took on extra work in the community hospital, ran specialist clinics, and provided medical support to Highlands and Islands Airports and the military.

However, when two partners retired and the practice could not hire replacements, the additional workload had to be dropped to ensure that the core business, the general practice, and the community hospital could continue.

However, it became unsustainable with a workload of 10 sessions per week and one in two on-call.
“And the health board has made no bones about it that they wanted to take the community hospital contract to safeguard the service in the face of our recruitment difficulties and so that they could redesign the unscheduled care service within the same budget,” explained Dr Dawson.

“Taking the contract from the practice completely destabilises it and makes it financially non-viable over a very short period of time.”

When Dr Dawson’s colleague said he no longer wished to work full-time, the only sustainable option was to hand back the contract.

Added Dr Dawson: “‘It’s been impossible to recruit new partners. And it came to the point when I was embarrassed to advertise the job. I’d feel I was almost hoodwinking people to come into a financially unstable situation where we might be forced to hand back the contract anyway.”

Read the full interview.