Doctor General practitioner Scotland

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Struggle to fill GP vacancies in Scotland

GP practices across Scotland are struggling to cope because so many vacancies are not being filled.

Andrew BuistA survey by the BMA Scottish GPs Committee found that practices were finding it hard to replace doctors, but also to get locum cover.

The survey was published today as the annual conference of Scottish LMCs gets under way in Clydebank.

Ahead of the conference, SGPC deputy chair Andrew Buist (pictured above) said the survey supported anecdotal evidence from GPs.

He said: ‘Scotland is facing a GP recruitment crisis which is being exacerbated by difficulties in securing locus cover.’

Dwindling numbers

‘An ever-increasing workload, combined with falling resources, has led to a reduction in the number of doctors choosing to train as GPs, while senior GPs are choosing to retire early or work abroad for a better work-life balance. 

'This will inevitably affect the care we can provide to our patients. 

'A high vacancy rate translates into a decline in the number of available appointments — reducing access to general practice at a time when we are trying to treat more people in their communities.’

Dr Buist said the BMA was calling on the Scottish Government to work with the association to improve long-term workforce planning and that the survey showed the urgent need to ensure practices could recruit and retain GPs now.

Of the 463 practices (61 per cent) that responded to the survey:

  • 17 per cent had at least one vacancy
  • Three-quarters said they had been unable to secure a locum on at least one day over the period of a month
  • Some practices said they had been unable to get locum cover for 15 days or more in a month.

In his address to the conference, SGPC chair Alan McDevitt is expected to call on the Scottish Government to address the recruitment problems in general practice.

Doctors at the conference are expected to debate issues including rising workload and demand, the impact of health and social care integration and discussions on an updated contract for Scottish GP practices.

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