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There is a wildness about this part of Scotland associated with the famous Rob Roy. A very short drive from my Glasgow home you see the start of the Highlands stretched before you. I know this area well as I worked for a number of years as a GP retainee at the Aberfoyle & Buchlyvie Practices. These take in a remote and rural part of West Stirlingshire as they go to the top part of Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine. My route would go past the turn off for Old Auchentroig Cottage. This had been built for a local landowner and his family early in the 18th century. Legend has it that a member of the owner’s clan offended the Scottish outlaw, Rob Roy, at an annual fair at Aberfoyle. Rob Roy retaliated by setting fire to the oak door of the cottage (still in existence with a charred door) and kidnapped the laird and his son.
The GP Practice included in this area extends up to the top of Loch Lomond. Tourists from Trossachs hotels attended the practice from time to time with their requests for medication that they had left at home or with their intercurrent illnesses. The vast majority of the time these “temporary residents” were encouraged to attend as the alternative -a home visit - could take about forty minutes to get to the top of Loch Lomond. As it was at times a single-track road with passing places, great care had to be taken to get there. If an Out-of-Hours visit is required, you will sometimes have to go there in the dark; mist can be quite dangerous as at one point there is a steep drop next to the road. Another part of the Practice takes in remote spots near to Loch Katrine (made famous by the writer Sir Walter Scott). This is part of the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve. This Loch has had its part to play in the improvement of the Public Health of the people of Glasgow as it has been a vital fresh water supply to the city of Glasgow after being opened by Queen Victoria in 1859.
These are the joys of rural practice. There were others such as discussing the game-keeper’s role with regards to his red deer management, doing home visits to farms & realising that there was definite rural deprivation among the stunning scenery. In fact, when a patient lives in a remote area the challenges of transport and therefore supporting the activities of daily living can be a real problem.
I was reminded of all this when I visited the Forth Valley LMC recently. I had been a member of this some time ago and it was interesting to hear a discussion about the numbers of temporary residents that were attending this Health Board’s practices. In Scotland visitors are welcomed to practices and no fees are charged in primary care if they come from abroad.
Having been welcomed to this LMC meeting it was good to see that there is a Sessional GP rep there to contribute.
Mary Anne Burrow is a member of the GPC UK Sessional subcommittee and on the Scotland GPC
It's disappointing to see, when morale in Rural Scottish Practices has never been lower, thanks in part to the contract our representatives negotiated. that our Sessional GP rep has her eyes firmly fixed on a mist-filled Brigadoon rather than the challenges of trying to sustain a service in these areas.
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This is part of the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve.https://tanktroubleonline.com/
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