However figures show that GP numbers have increased less in Scotland than in England.
GP headcount figures published by the Information Services Division (ISD) – a division of NHS Scotland – showed that from 2004, when the GMS contract was introduced, to 2011 the total number of GPs in Scotland had increased from 4,456 to 4,937. This represented a 10.8% increase.
The figures also showed a marked increase in the number of salaried GP posts, rising from 188 in 2004 to 533 in 2011 (a 184% increase). Whole-time equivalent figures are unavailable.
The most recent DH headcount figures for England show that GP numbers increased from 34,855 in 2004 to 39,409 in 2010, a 13% increase.
There were 2,742 salaried GPs in England in 2004. This increased to 8,319 in 2010, an increase of 203%.
John Gillies, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said: ‘It is encouraging to see these figures which suggest that the introduction of the GMS contract has increased the ability for GPs to work more flexibly and has also allowed an improvement of the gender mix within the workforce.
‘However it is unclear from the figures provided whether the rise in GP numbers has increased the direct contact time patients have with GPs or if the figures solely reflect an increase in part-time working within the profession.’