General practitioner Scotland

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Call for new surgeries as population hits record high

GP leaders in Scotland have called for support to build new surgeries to help cope with growing communities.

The call came as figures from the registrar general of Scotland show the country’s population has risen to its highest level since records began, reaching 5,254,800 in mid-2011.

This is 14,000 higher than the previous high in 1974, and a rise of almost 200,000 (190,600) since the 2001 census.

BMA Scottish GPs committee deputy chair Andrew Buist said that population rises, along with stocks of new housing being developed in communities across Scotland, were creating pressure on existing general practices.

He said: ‘Everyone needs to have access to their GP at some point in their life, from immunisation of babies to care for [older people]. If we are to improve access and provide the range of services that patients need, then we have to make sure we have the capacity to deliver.'

Planning process

He called on the Scottish government to put in place measures that would put a duty on local authorities to consider the impact of new housing developments on local health services.

‘We believe it would make sense to include this as part of the planning process,’ he added.

Registrar general George MacKenzie said Scotland’s population had seen a continuous increase in recent years, partly because there had been more births than deaths, but mainly because more people had moved to Scotland than had left.

The figures also show that the number of deaths in Scotland in 2011 dropped to 53,661, the lowest since registration began in 1855, but that life expectancy is still lower than in many other EU countries.

Last month, the BMA GPs committee said investment in premises was needed if they were to absorb work being transferred from hospitals into primary care.