The sustainability crisis in GP practice in Scotland

This page details the background to the current sustainability crisis in GP practice in Scotland as a result of an inability to implement the commitments of the 2018 contract.

Location: Scotland
Audience: GPs
Updated: Tuesday 23 May 2023
GP practice article illustration

The 2018 GP contract was meant to secure the sustainability of general practice and ensure stability.

Unfortunately, Scottish Government has been unable to deliver on their promise to the profession and the public because of waning political support as shown by reduced and withdrawn investment, broken agreements, inadequate workforce planning, and an inability to implement an ambitious contract that relies on primary care service delivery transformation.

General practice in Scotland is in a sustainability crisis.  This is evidenced starkly by national information that is presented below.  The impact of each individual event that contributes to the national picture cannot be overstated.  Every practice closure, every decision not to accept new patients, every additional patient that GP practices provide for that is not adequately resourced, is taking an exceptional toll on the GP profession, practice staff, and patients.

The situation is undoubtedly critical and represents an immediate and considerable challenge for the Scottish Government.  BMA Scotland is calling on Scottish Government to invest in general practice before it is damaged irreparably.


Scotland does not have enough GPs

There are 245,193 more patients registered with GP practices in 2022 than in 2012.  This problem is compounded because Scotland’s population is aging, which means that GP practices need more funding to provide the same level of care to their population.



The number of GP practices in Scotland is falling

More GP practices are terminating their contract

The number of GP practices providing services to patients in Scotland has reduced over the last decade from 997 practices in 2012 to 905 practices in 2023



Practices are being forced to stop accepting new patients

Increasing numbers of GP practices are being forced to close their patient lists because they do not have sufficient resources to meet their patient needs.  This means that increasing numbers of patients are unable to register with the practice in their area.