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Apologies for the long post but there is a lot of important information regarding the practice that we wish to share. We would appreciate if you could share this with as many friends and family as possible on social media and in person.
We have continued to work hard over the last couple of years to provide the best service that we can for our patients but, over time, this has become increasingly difficult due to ongoing recruitment issues. We are now at the stage where we are experiencing extreme staff shortages at the surgery and in order for our remaining clinical staff to be able to focus on those who require urgent and time-critical care, we are asking patients to consider if they really need to contact the practice.
Many minor complaints can be treated at home and pharmacies now offer the Pharmacy First Service Pharmacists can offer help and advice on many conditions and can also provide certain medicines and products free on the NHS.
There is a wealth of on-line services such as which has lots of helpful self-help information. is another very useful resource.
The Know Who to Turn To website,, also offers a full directory of the services on offer and when you should use them.
Often, for minor ailments such as earache, a clinician will only recommend trying simple pain relief for 48 hours. Remember, for colds, coughs, earache and conjunctivitis, antibiotics are rarely recommended where symptoms have been present for less than 48 hours.
Eye problems are best dealt with by an optician, all the local opticians offer urgent/same day appointments.
Dental problems are best dealt with by a dentist, all the local dentists offer urgent/same day appointments.
This situation is likely to continue until at least the middle of June 2022.
The repeat prescription line remains open but there may be delays in your request being processed as this needs to be checked by a clinician before being signed which will take longer to do on some days as we may only have one clinician available to review them. To avoid any delays, we ask that you order your prescriptions in plenty of time. You can order from two weeks before you run out for two months supplies, from one week before for one month supplies and allow 4 working days from the time of ordering to collecting them from the pharmacy. The pharmacy offers a Text When Ready Service and can contact you when your medication is ready for collection but you have to give them your details to do so. There will also be a significant delay for those requesting letters, completion of medical reports, etc as the clinicians must prioritise urgent health care.
Sadly, we have to reiterate NHS Grampian’s Zero Tolerance Policy, in that verbal and/or physical intimidation/abuse of any member of our staff, be it on the phone or in person, will not be tolerated. We expect our staff to be treated with the same dignity and respect that is afforded to everyone who contacts the practice, however, we are being subjected to an increase in intimidating, rude and unpleasant encounters by some patients, which leaves the team distressed and upset. Our Receptionists are, sadly, at the sharp end of most of this, often multiple times a day, and we ask that they are treated with the same respect that is shown to other members of the team.
Our Receptionists have been asked to encourage patients to use eConsult or ask certain questions if this option is not possible or refused and although we understand that a lack of direct access to the clinical team is frustrating, the clinicians decide who requires an urgent call back or who can wait based on the information given to the Receptionist. Every member of staff plays an integral part in the practice and it is disappointing that many are not given the respect they deserve whilst doing their job.
There is no further news with regards to who will be taking over primary care service provision on 13 June 2022, but there will continue to be a service at the practice. The Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership are working hard in the background and we are sure that they will update us when they can.
Thank you for taking the time to read this long post and for your understanding during this very difficult period for the practice. Please be assured that we continue to do as much as we can to provide the best service we can under the circumstances.
28 March 2022


The partners of Alford Medical Practice have made the very difficult decision to hand back their contract to Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership due to ongoing difficulties with recruiting clinical staff. The partners will continue to deliver general medical services until their contract concludes on 12th June 2022 so there will be no change presently for patients.

There will be a process led by the AHSCP to tender for another practice to take over the contract. This process starts immediately, and will be completed by June 2022 to ensure a smooth transition for patients.

Please do not contact the Practice directly at this point as there is no further information that can be given and the lines need to be kept open for those requiring medical attention.

We have attached a copy of the news release sent out by AHSCP along with a FAQ sheet which will, hopefully, answer any questions you may have.

Dr Nicholas Shanks and Dr Shona Blues

AHSCP News Release



We are experiencing severe recruitment issues at the moment and have not yet been able to fill the post vacated by Dr Naismith, despite our best efforts over the past 4 months. We have been lucky to appoint a replacement for Matt, our ANP who left us in September, however, Shona, the new ANP, has less availability.
Going forward, Dr Ashman will start maternity leave in February 2022 for a year and although advertising this vacancy along with Dr Naismith’s we have, as yet, been unable to recruit a replacement.
Unfortunately, this situation is not isolated to Alford with many practices throughout Grampian (and beyond) finding themselves in the same difficult situation.
We are working hard to find replacements for these vacancies and despite the loss of clinical time we are endeavouring to provide the same/next day service offered since March 2020, however, it is inevitable that there will be delays on some days.
We will continue to provide a contact first service, meaning that clinical staff will review all requests for appointments and decide on the most appropriate action, be it a phone consultation, being brought into the practice for an examination or signposted to the most appropriate person, eg pharmacist, dentist, optician etc.
In line with NHS Grampian’s Zero Tolerance Policy, abuse of our staff (verbal or physical) will not be tolerated and we expect our staff to be treated with dignity and respect.
We appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.
Thank you 🌈🌈🌈

As we are sure you are all aware, Scotland moved beyond level 0 on Monday 9th August, which means a significant change in many of the restrictions we've all been used to. However, the Scottish Government have previously asked that we maintain a higher level of protection in order to safeguard all of the patients visiting the surgery, some of whom are particularly vulnerable, and this guidance has not yet changed.

A face mask will still be required when attending the surgery and the 2 metre distancing rule will remain.

We will also ask you to continue to ring the doorbell and answer the questions asked by the Receptionist. As we continue to have reduced waiting room seating we ask that only one person attend their appointment (children under 16 and those who attend with a carer excepted, of course).

Until these measures can safely be removed, we will continue to do everything we can to keep our patients and staff as safe as possible.

Thank you for your continued support, we appreciate your kindness and understanding during what is a difficult time for everybody.

Stay safe


  • Do you for anyone else in your household have a cough or cold/flu-like symptoms
  • Do you or anyone else in your household have a temperature or feel shivery?
  • Do you or anyone else in your household have a loss of taste and/or smell?
If you or anyone else on your household has answered Yes to one or more of the above questions, please perform a Lateral Flow Test.  If this is positive, please commence isolation immediatley.  If the Lateral Flow Tests is negative but you have any of the symptoms listed above, go to NHS Inform or call 119 and book a Covid test without further delay.  Having a negative Lateral Flow Test does not mean that you don't have Covid and you require a PCR test to rule out infection.

ALL household members and close contacts must perform a Lateral Flow Test every day for 10 days, even though they may not be symptomatic          

There is a wealth of health information available on the NHS Inform website -

The Know Who to Turn To website also offers a full directory of the services on offer and when you should use them -

AbilityNet is a UK-wide charity with a 20+ year history of promoting a digital world accessible to all. They work with older and disabled people to help them make the most of their devices whether it’s a laptop, tablet, desktop or phone.  If you know someone who might need support to learn how to use a digital device such as those who would struggle to know how to submit an eConsult or make a video call contact AbilityNet on 0800 048 7642 or visit

**New Total Triage Service - eConsult**

The surgery has introduced a "triage" system, called eConsult, for all appointment requests. This means that appointments can no longer be booked directly by telephone. The best way to request an appointment is to submit an online consultation by clicking the GET STARTED button, below, and the surgery will review this and get back to you, either by email or telephone, usually within 2 hours if your eConsult is submitted before 12 noon. Any online consultations submitted after 12 noon will be responded to as quickly as possible with a guaranteed response of 10am the next working day.  


For a short period on the morning of Monday the 21st March 2022 eConsults that were submitted to practices were not received, due to a problem with NHS mail. This affected approximately 1,900 patients, including patients at your practice. We noticed the issue in the morning and it was subsequently noted on NHS Digital’s service page.

eConsult Live 50       

How to upload a photograph as part of an eConsultation

click on [ ] to view full screen


Watch the eConsult demos above for more information

Further information can be found in the following link which will take you to a demonstration on how to use eConsult - (approx 52 minutes long) or (approx 2.5 minutes long)

The longer video was filmed with members of Dorset PPG groups and we would recommend watching this if you have any free time to do so.

The following is covered during the demonstration:

00:00 - Quick intro

06:39 - How to submit a clinical eConsults for medical requests or for when you feel unwell

20:40 - How to upload a photograph as part of an eConsult

27:46 - How to submit an administrative eConsult for things such as sick note requests or general questions to the practice

31:40 - How to use our Clinical Review Questionnaires to give your regular readings for conditions such as High Blood Pressure, or Asthma

Please note that CCGs, SystemOne and NHS apps are only available in England and Wales but the basic information in the demonstration is the same UK-wide

Start Video Call Appointment

If you are ready to attend your video appointment, or you want to make a test call before your appointment is due, click the start video call button below (please ensure you are using Google Chrome  on a Windows or Android device, or Safari on Apple devices). If you make a test call this tests your device, connection, speaker and camera, it does not make a call.  More details about Near Me are available on the Appointment tabs. 

Please do not start a video call unless you have pre-booked an appointment via our patient adviser or clinician

For Technical Requirements to run an NHS Near Me video call click here Technical Requirements  

For Troubleshooting tips if you experience difficulties using NHS Near Me click here Troubleshooting tips  

Due to Covid 19, the practice is no longer able to allow patients to directly book an appointment with a GP, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner or Healthcare Assistant at the practice. All contacts and queries are triaged by the clinical team and the most appropriate course of action decided. This is a system known as total triage.

While some of the lockdown restrictions are likely to ease in the near future, it is important that the practice only deals with patients face to face when it is absolutely essential or urgent for staff and patient safety. We remain open and available for your health concerns but due to obvious restrictions will try to manage patients by telephone and video consultations (using NearMe) whenever possible.

The system has worked very well ensuring patients are dealt with promptly and by the appropriate member of the team. This means that to continue to protect public safety total triage will remain in place long term as the practice deals with Covid and works towards finding a new normal.

The preferred route into the surgery would be by completing an eConsult but details can be taken over the phone for patients who cannot do this.

We will shortly be providing details about how to book nurse appointments for such things as chronic disease reviews and smears, etc.

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any worrying or urgent concerns you may have.

What is eConsult?

eConsult has several functions:- It can help you with self diagnosis using its symptom checker and gives detailed self-help information; it can help you determine the most appropriate place to go seek help, which may be your local pharmacy or the national 111 help line; and it provides a mechanism to submit a secure eConsult direct to the GP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means you don't have to wait for the practice to open to submit an eConsult, it can be done anytime including evenings and weekends to beat the morning rush. The practice will then reply by the end of the next working day.

If you wish to submit an eConsult to the practice:

  • Click on the "Get Started" banner above
  • Click on "I want help for my condition" and then select your condition from the list. If you can't find a good fit, select "I want general advice"
  • Work through the questions and then submit to the practice. We will respond within 2 hours if you submit your eConsult before 12 noon.  Any online consultations submitted after 12 noon will be responded to as quickly as possible with a guaranteed response of 10am the following working day.  Please be aware that we will respond either by email or telephone.

You can add photos to your eConsult (important if you have rash to diagnose you more easily) if you complete any of the following templates:

Adult Templates:

Acne, Athlete’s foot, Bites and stings, Breast problems in men, Breast problems in women, Flu, Cold or Flu, Conjunctivitis/Sticky eye, Contact dermatitis, Eczema, Elbow pain, Hives/Urticaria, Mastitis, Mouth ulcer, Rash, Stye, Warts and verrucae

Child Templates:

Conjunctivitis/Sticky eye, Eczema Hives/Urticaria, Impetigo Rash, Ringworm, Warts and verrucae.

Latest Update about Coronavirus

GP Practices have remained open throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. Urgent medical problems are still dealt with by GPs, nurses and other staff.
As we move into a phased recovery, most medical services will start to come back on stream, but this does not, and cannot mean a return to normal.
Just as the supermarket, the coffee shop and the office is a very different place, so too is the GP surgery. Much of what you may need to contact the surgery about can be dealt with without attending there, so people across the country are being asked to phone or e mail first, with telephone or video calls arranged, and only those who need face to face contact are asked to attend to keep you and others safe with as few people as possible in the buildings.
Because it's likely that those attending will have health problems, it's even more important to ensure safety than it is in the supermarket or office so staff will wear PPE, and you will be asked to wear a face covering/ mask.
Contact time will be kept to a minimum for everyone’s safety but despite this each appointment needs to be longer, and flow through the buildings will be controlled, and waiting rooms will seem very different.
The way they are delivered will stay changed for a very long time to come. We all need to feel safe when we use the NHS and need our NHS staff to be safe.

From 8am on Monday 23rd March 2020, NHS24 are now the first point of contact for any suspected Covid-19 related concerns. Please check the NHS Inform website ( for more information.

You should only call 111 if you feel you cannot manage your symptoms at home or if the NHS Inform website does not answer your Covid-19 query.

This change is being implemented across Scotland due to the high volume of suspected Covid-19 calls coming through to allow General Practices to continue to provide care for any non-Covid 19 related health matters.

If you do contact the practice and it is a Covid 19 related matter you will be asked to call 111.

The practice is making preparations for the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic with guidance from Health Protection Scotland and Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

If you have any of symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath you must not come into the surgery and should instead follow the guidance on the flowchart below. This is to protect you, other patients and the staff in the surgery. The UK Government has advised that any individual with persistent fever and cough symptom should self-isolate for 7 days.

We will be implementing a triage system for all patients with suspected Covid 19 so that we can decide which patients will need further assessment. We intend to use NearMe video consultations whenever possible as this will allow for a better assessment than a telephone call. We would ask that anyone who has the capability to use this service does so and that you visit our website to try a test call.

If you do have an appointment at the surgery we would ask that you wear a face covering, eg scarf or cloth and on arrival at the practice, that you ring the doorbell and follow our patient adviser's advice.  We would also ask that you keep at least 2 metres away from anyone in the waiting room.

For any other medical issues we would encourage you to consider an alternative method of consulting with us - either by eConsult or by telephone. In this difficult time the eConsult platform would be our preferred option as it provides us with more detailed information.

Advice relating to Covid 19 will change frequently as the pandemic progresses in the coming weeks and we will try to keep our patients updated as often as possible with any significant changes to this advice. We would encourage you to check our practice website or the Patient Participation Group Facebook page daily for updates and we will also aim to communicate through text message whenever possible.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we try to deal with a worrying and rapidly evolving situation.

Useful links:

Health Protection Scotland 

Advice for people who are self-isolating at home

Face Coverings

Following on from the Scottish Government guidance, the Practice asks that patients who are attending the surgery could come wearing a face covering – e.g. scarf or cloth. This is not currently mandatory, but patient co-operation would be very much appreciated to protect both patients and staff. Thank you!

Click here for more information - 


People are not required to carry proof that they are exempt for medical reasons. They do not need exemption letters or certificates and their word should be accepted by relevant organisations.

However, you can access DIY cards to help deal with public situations that might happen - click on the link below for more information.


The surgery was purpose built and designed to accommodate all the needs of disabled patients. There is full wheelchair access throughout and suitable toilet facilities.  Car parking at or near to the surgery is not usually a problem. There is a good-sized car park on site. Use of the car park is entirely at patient’s own risk.

Zero Abuse

We operate a zero abuse policy and ask that you respect the team that looks after you.

Both physical and/or verbal abuse towards any member of our team will not be tolerated and patients found in breach of this policy may have to find alternative medical care.

Please treat our team with the same respect that you would expect to be treated.

This is where we'll post the latest information relating to our services, practice news and upcoming events, which we hope you will find useful (click on the Facebook link above).

If you do, please 'like', 'follow' and 'share' the page, and tell your friends to do the same, so we can spread the word.

Please note any negative or derogatory comments will be removed.


If you require urgent attention when we are closed, please call 111

For severe life threatening emergencies, call 999

please do not wait until we re-open

The Know Who To Turn To website ( offers a full directory of the services on offer and when you should use them as does NHS Inform (

We hope you have a happy and healthy Jubilee Weekend 


If you require urgent attention that cannot wait until we re-open at 3pm, please call 07918 973 029

For severe life threatening emergencies, call 999

please do not wait until we re-open

The Know Who To Turn To website offers a full directory of the services on offer and when you should use them.

Disclaimer: The information given in these pages is provided for information only.  Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate, the author cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions which have occurred and no responsibility will be taken by the author for events arising from use of the information provided.  Although the advice for patients is as comprehensive and accurate as possible, it is only general and should not be used as a substitute for the patient consulting their own doctor.

Alford Medical Practice is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.  These links are provided as a convenience to the visitor and their inclusion does not imply our endorsement.

(Site updated 10/05/2022)
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