GP recruitment crisis leaves one in six Scottish practices with vacancies

Practices in Scotland are struggling to cope with a high number of unfilled GP posts, the BMA has warned ahead of the 2015 Scottish LMCs Conference in Glasgow.

Dr Andrew Buist: GP vacancy warning (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)
Dr Andrew Buist: GP vacancy warning (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)

A poll by the Scottish GPC (SGPC) found that 17% of 463 practices that responded had at least one GP vacancy.

Respondents also revealed huge problems with securing locum cover, with 75% saying they were unable to secure a locum on at least one day over a one-month period. Some practices had been unable to secure locum cover for 15 days or more within a single month, the poll found.

GP workforce and workload problems are high on the agenda at the Scottish LMCs conference, which starts today.

GPonline reported last week that LMC representatives will debate calls for the pay-for-performance QOF to be scrapped in Scotland at the Clydebank, Glasgow conference.

Interview: SGPC chairman Dr Alan McDevitt

Deputy SGPC chairman Dr Andrew Buist said: 'This survey provides a snapshot of the situation across Scotland and supports the anecdotal evidence that we are hearing from GP colleagues. Scotland is facing a GP recruitment crisis which is being further exacerbated by difficulties in securing locum cover.'

Dr Buist said rising workload and falling funding had cut the number of doctors training to be GPs, and driven others to retire early or emigrate.

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

A GP magazine poll last year found that a third of practices have at least one GP vacancy, and one in six of these have been unable to fill a post for more than a year.

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