NHS FORTH VALLEY will take over one of the GP practices in Clackmannanshire in a bid to save it from closure.

Four of the five doctors at Dr Stirling & Partners Medical Practice, based at the Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre, have confirmed they plan to leave or retire over the next few months.

As a result, the health board will step in and assume responsibility for its management, as of May 1.

Health chiefs insist patient services will be continued. The other practices based at the health centre will be unaffected.

Dr Kenneth Stirling previously told the Advertiser how Clacks is "running out of GPs" due to ongoing recruitment issues.

In 2016, he said he and his partners had hoped to hire two or three doctors, and at that time one of his colleagues was at the stage where he would be looking to cut back his hours.

It is not the first time the health board have made such a move over the last few years, with similar issues cropping up in Bannockburn.

However, NHS Forth Valley plans to advertise the practice as being "vacant" to enable an interested group of GPs to form a new partnership to take over the running of the practice.

In the meantime, work is now underway to recruit additional doctors and redeploy a number of GPs, who are employed by the health board, to provide GP services.

Health chiefs say this move will "ensure that the practice remains open and continues to provide services to the local community".

Dr Stuart Cumming, associate medical director for primary care in NHS Forth Valley, said: “The current situation reflects significant recruitment problems being experienced by GP practices across Scotland and our immediate priority is to ensure the practice remains open and continues to provide services to local people.

"Work is therefore underway to look at ways of best ensuring ongoing access to GP and primary services.

“I’d like to thank the existing GPs and their clinical staff, administrative and reception staff who will continue to work at the practice, along with the staff in the neighbouring GP practices for all their help and support in taking forward these arrangements.”

In addition, there are plans to introduce other services at the practice including advanced nurse practitioners and primary care pharmacy staff.

This is aimed at preventing possible delays and ensuring patients have access to a wider range of support and advice.

It is hoped it will free up GP time to manage patients with more complex health issues who require to see a doctor.

Similar multi-disciplinary teams have been introduced in two other GP practices managed by NHS Forth Valley.