The leader of Scotland’s GPs has warned they risked sleepwalking into the slow death of general practice as they know it.
BMA Scottish GPs committee chair Andrew Buist called on the Scottish Government to act quickly to prevent more practices collapsing and to make general practice an attractive career again.
In a despairing speech to the conference of Scottish local medical committees in Clydebank, Dr Buist, a GP in Blairgowrie, said a recent survey of more than 1,000 GPs in Scotland painted a grim picture.
Three quarters said the past year made them more likely to take early retirement or leave the profession, the same proportion said excessive workload made them more likely to reduce hours, and just 18 per cent would recommend general practice as a career.
Dr Buist admitted he himself could no longer immediately say yes to recommending general practice as a career.
‘I have been a GP for 30 years – I am proud to call myself a GP, it is a job with huge potential for job satisfaction in helping patients in sickness and to live well – but we are at a tipping point for general practice. In recent years the sheer volume of workload in excess of our capacity has made the job unbearable at times.
‘Being a GP has been, is, and can continue to be, a hugely rewarding career choice but we need a new vision for primary care with sufficient GPs with the time and the back-up of a full multidisciplinary team, to allow GPs to focus on being expert medical generalists.’
He called on the Scottish Government to address recruitment and retention problems and to make being a GP not just bearable and manageable, but also getting the joy and satisfaction back into the job.
‘I want to be able to unreservedly recommend being a GP to every young doctor in training, medical student and potential medical student I meet – and my challenge to the Scottish Government is for them to now finally deliver the direct investment to recruit the GPs we know are needed to make that happen.
'Listen to us, work with us – the people of Scotland are being let down, please give us the tools we need to stop that from getting any worse.’