A GREENOCK GP surgery has been criticised after telling patients for a full month to stay away unless their case was an emergency.

Worried patients of Mount Pleasant Practice voiced their concerns over text messages sent to them stating that only certain people would be able to receive treatment.

The texts sent out by the surgery at Station View Health Centre said: 'During the month of July the practice will experience a significant reduction in GPs.

'With guidance from the local HSCP and the Health Board we will be operating an emergency only appointment system.

'We will be unable to deal with routine problems.'

The surgery also told its patients that there would be 'no routine chronic disease management or smear tests', saying these were both 'paused'.

It added: 'Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.'

A registered patient of the practice described the lack of service as 'outrageous'.

They said: "My mother-in-law has several medical needs and already struggled to get appointments before they sent these texts.

“She’s very anxious and has life-threatening conditions, but whenever she calls, she gets fobbed off.

"It has put her off calling at all, which worries me.

“The situation we are facing with GP practices and lack of appointments is unacceptable – it’s disgusting that people have to worry about just being seen by their GP.

“Now, these texts show the situation is worse than before.

"No routine appointments for a whole month is a long time.

“There’s not enough GPs and full-time staff.”

While the health and social care partnership said they were unable to provide details on operational matters of the practice, they confirmed that there were staffing issues at the practice.

An Inverclyde HSCP spokesperson said: “The practice informed us that they are experiencing staffing issues and we are supporting them and remain in regular contact.

“While the sector in general is experiencing staffing issues, we’re not aware of issues with any other practices at this time."

Dr Kathleen McCrorey, GP Partner at Mount Pleasant Practice, said the decision to reduce services at the practice was taken to ensure staff could take annual leave.

She said staff at the practice had been 'working tirelessly over the past 18 months to help serve a patient base of more than 6,000 people'.

They said the 'short-term' decision would allow staff who had not taken any time off this year to get some annual leave 'to recharge, while also allowing us to continue delivering a core service at the practice'.

She added that the decision was taken following discussions with the HSCP and apologised to any patients affected.

Appointments at the surgery have returned to normal this week following the month-long stoppage.