Scotland could be 900 GPs short by 2020, RCGP warns

Scottish politicians must make general practice a top priority, RCGP Scotland has warned, as estimates suggest the country could face shortages of over 900 GPs in just five years' time.

Dr Miles Mack: warning over GP workforce (Photo: RCGP)
Dr Miles Mack: warning over GP workforce (Photo: RCGP)

The college estimated that Scotland will face a shortfall of up to 915 GPs by 2020 if the country’s population grows in line with the highest estimates of predicted growth.

Even if the population increases at its lowest rate, an extra 563 GPs will be required to meet demand, according to the estimates.

The results come as a ComRes poll of the Scottish public showed that over a third (36%) said they had struggled to secure a GP appointment within 48 hours of trying to book an appointment.

The Com Res findings showed public support for the country’s GPs was high, the RCGP said, with 73% of those polled agreeing that the Scottish government should provide financial incentives for under-doctored areas.

Immediate action required

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said ‘immediate action and radical thinking’ was needed to ‘save the system’. He called on political parties in Scotland to pledge more GPs and increase general practice’s share of funding up to 11%.

‘These findings are very worrying indeed,’ he said. ‘There is clearly a desperate need for all Scottish politicians to put general practice at the front of their thinking and announcements and to emulate the commitments for England that political leaders there have given regarding sourcing and funding a much larger GP workforce.

‘We have heard one, very welcome, commitment to 500 extra GPs in Scotland from Scottish Labour. What a loss it would be if the other Scottish parties ignored the central hub of the Scottish NHS and did not seize the opportunity to save general practice. Only then will the Scottish public be better served by its health service and the pressure can be lifted from A&E and the rest of the NHS.’

Speaking earlier this year at the Scottish LMC’s conference, GPC Scotland chairman Dr Alan McDevitt said – despite mounting workforce pressures and ‘rock-bottom’ morale – that he was confident the future was bright for Scottish general practice.

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