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NHS Borders consultation re Coldingham branch surgery and dispensing service.

NHS Borders has written to the patient population inviting them for comments and suggestions regarding the future of the dispensing service and branch surgery premises in Coldingham.

This process has been initiated by the Practice Partners,  after a lengthy period of consideration and reflection, as a result of multiple factors which have resulted in concerns about our ability to continue running the Coldingham Branch Surgery and Dispensing Service.

Whilst the Covid pandemic has compounded some of the challenges we have faced in preserving the dispensing service, our internal review of service provision at Coldingham has been ongoing for several years.

The list below outlines just some of the difficulties we have encountered :

1)      A national recruitment and retention crisis in General Practice resulting in difficulty replacing GPs who retire or leave. Rural areas tend to have more difficulty recruiting GPs than urban areas. As a result, the practice has diversified the clinical team to incorporate advanced nurse and paramedic practitioner colleagues.

2)      An inability to recruit a qualified dispenser resulting in the remaining dispensing staff being placed under significant pressure especially during periods of staff leave. The risk of dispensing errors increases if staff have to consistently work at pace under duress for sustained periods of time.

3)      Modern community pharmacies are able to offer a wider range of services such as the Pharmacy First service, advice on self care, the provision of over the counter medications and direct treatment for a small range of clinical problems. There are pharmacies in Eyemouth, Duns and Dunbar within a short distance of most of the users of the dispensary which can provide these services.

4)      Coldingham branch surgery is unable to offer the full range of clinical interventions to patients as the facilities at the site are limited. Therefore, patients often have to travel to Eyemouth for a second appointment if a procedure or investigation is needed to complete an episode of care.

5)      Future sustainability of the practice is of paramount importance to the partners, our patients and the practice team. We have a responsibility to consider how best we achieve this and plan for future resilience in the context of the above.

We are working closely with NHS Borders to explore these issues, and what measures should be taken to provide the best possible service to the whole practice population. We would like to assure patients that every effort will be made to maintain the current service from Coldingham surgery until a resolution to our current predicament has been achieved.

If you would be affected by this, NHS Borders would like to hear any comments and suggestions you may have. Please get in touch in the following ways by Monday 9th August :

  • By phoning 0800 731 4052, free of charge (you may need to leave a message)
  • By email to:
  • By post to: Public Involvement, Communications & Engagement, Education Centre, Borders General Hospital, Melrose, TD6 9BD.

PLEASE NOTE: The practice is unable to receive information related to this consultation so we would be grateful if patients could refrain from approaching our staff directly regarding this matter. We understand that the uncertainty caused by this process may be uncomfortable for both patients and members of our practice team. The partners will aim to communicate openly with all relevant parties to reach the best possible outcome.