THE medical practice in Sauchie will transfer back into independent hands this March after NHS Forth Valley found a suitable firm to take over.

A raft of retirements, and an inability to attract GPs, meant the practice was unable to operate, with the health board stepping in on a temporary basis.

The Advertiser first revealed the takeover was on the cards back in February 2018, and officials have been working since then to ensure the surgery's ongoing viability.

And on Monday, NHS Forth Valley announced the Hallpark practice, based at Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre, will be managed by the Forth Medical Group in what was described as a "very positive development".

Health chiefs say the incoming company has a proven track record in managing services, with practices already operating in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

Current staff will be eligible to transfer to work with the incoming employers and the health board, therefore, promised no job losses.

Dr Stuart Cumming, associate medical director for primary care at NHS Forth Valley, said: "Transferring the management of these three practices back to GPs is a very positive development which will provide long-term sustainability, continuity of care for local patients and release resources which can be reinvested by the health board to develop local services."

The takeover comes after a tender process which saw several bidders assessed against a range of criteria.

Subject to the finalisation of contracts and arrangements, the aim is for Forth Medical Group to be managing the practice as of March this year.

GP offices in Grangemouth and Bannockburn will also come under the group's management, officials said.

Dr Usman Rehman, of the Forth Medical Group, said: "We are looking forward to working with the existing staff and other local health and social care professionals to provide a high standard of primary care services to the patient population across the three practices.

"We are also keen to explore opportunities to develop new and innovative services tailored to the needs of the local communities."