The number of GP practices across Scotland is to fall below 1000 for the first time, figures have shown.
As of April, there were only 1,002 practices left in the country, 60 fewer than a decade ago.
The fall from 2011 when 1,014 were in operation is one of the sharpest yet, sparking fears that those in rural communities are having to travel further for their healthcare needs.
It signals another cut in health by the Scottish Government, with nearly 2,500 less nurses than three years ago, and waiting lists mounting up across the country.
The Scottish Conservatives have also revealed in recent weeks how one patient a month is stranded in accident and emergency for more than 24 hours, while there are currently nine delayed discharge hospital who have languished on wards for more than a year.
Stripping down of GP surgeries mirrors a centralising agenda by the SNP, which has seen it cut local police stations by a fifth, and courts by more than 30 per cent.
Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Dr Nanette Milne said: “The SNP is presiding over the closure of many GP surgeries at a rate never seen before.
“We’ve seen them cut back police stations, cut back courts, and now they’re cutting back vital GP surgeries.
“It’s one thing to go on about telehealth being the answer, but this is no consolation to those patients – particularly in rural communities – who absolutely depend on their local GP.
“The Scottish Government has to realise that it can’t keep allowing things to close, because there will come a point when patient safety will be placed at risk.
“We’re trying to get attendance rates at accident and emergency down, but this will never happen if people have nowhere to go when ill.
“In the past few weeks alone the GP surgery in Tarves – in Alex Salmond’s own constituency – has closed.
“The SNP has become the party of centralisation in the NHS, and this is not something patients or professionals want to see.
“It is a situation that is hitting rural communities hard across the whole of Scotland.”