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I have now travelled from the far north of Scotland to the borders with England. There are two adjacent health boards there which have doctors who may work either side of the border as long as they conform with the performers list regulations.
I visited the borders LMC on a beautiful July evening with the chance to enjoy its rolling countryside and views of the Tweed river as it wound to the North Sea. The LMC welcomed me and we met in the local hospital. I was able to hear about what it’s like to work as a GP there. I heard that currently there were enough GPs in post with no health board run practices. It was felt that perhaps the proximity of Edinburgh could be a major contributing factor. I’ve been told that quite a lot of people live in the borders and then commute to Edinburgh. It meanss that doctors have the chance to work in either rural practices or urban areas.
This borders situation contrasted strongly with the adjacent health board of Dumfries and Galloway. It has a very varied countryside from the remote Southern Uplands to its coastline, combining both rural and urban practices. The GPs travel long distances to get to their LMC meetings and most have to join remotely. It is about two hours from the nearest large conurbation of Central Scotland. There was a discussion about how fewer people wish to come and work in the area, unlike ten years ago. There were concerns here about the possibility of a ‘last-man standing’ situation and how to assist colleagues with doctor staff-shortages. This visit gave me lots of food for thought.
If you’re affected by any of the issues raised in this blog please contact [email protected].
Mary Anne L. Burrow is a member of the GPC sessional GPs subcommittee and GPC Scotland