Up to 40 per cent of Edinburgh and Lothian GP practices are restricting the number of patient registrations at their surgeries, with some refusing to accept new patients entirely.
Limited patient registration is no new issue in Edinburgh but the number of surgeries taking part has increased by 17 per cent after last year with 51 of the 122 surgeries in the region restricting patient access.
This increase is likely a consequence of a wave of surgeries shutting down due to under staffing fuelled by the national GP shortage. This will have a significant impact on individuals in Edinburgh who are trying to register for a doctor as well as enforcing harsher consequences for patients who neglect to turn up for their appointments.
Speaking to The Scotsman, Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs MSP said, “The fact that over 40 per cent of GP practices within NHS Lothian are either full and not accepting new patients or are restricting registration is an indication of just how stretched GP services are across the region.”
One University of Edinburgh student spoke to The Student about the difficulties they faced in registering with a GP during their first year.
After being told they were not eligible to register at the Richard Verney Health Centre as their halls of residence were too far away, they were turned away from multiple local practices due to overcrowding.
The Student also spoke to Esther Dominy, VP of Welfare from the Edinburgh University Students’ Association, who said: “We’re increasingly seeing GP surgeries in Edinburgh restricting patient registrations and facing closures – this is a major issue for students, particularly if they are new to the city or move around more often and have to register or re-register with a GP.
“We would definitely recommend students try and get registered as soon as possible, so if you need to see a GP urgently in the future you won’t have to wait to register.
“The University Health Centre is Bristo Square is an option for students living within the practice area, however their registrations fill up fast as well and you should try to do this as soon as possible.
“If you haven’t been able to register with a GP, the NHS should be able to provide a list of surgeries near that you can contact.
“Restrictions on registration are also often temporary, so keep checking back when you can.
“If you’re having difficulties finding a GP, you can get in touch with the Students’ Association’s Advice Place who can offer support and advice.”
The university’s GP surgery, the Richard Verney Health Centre, was closed to patient registration throughout most of semester two of the 2016/17 academic year.
However, they are accepting patients that are not already registered with an Edinburgh GP from Monday 11 September. If students are facing difficulties registering with a GP due to patient restrictions they can contact the NHS’ health board to find out which local practices are accepting new patients.
Image: Tom Parnell