Scotland losing nearly one full-time GP per week, RCGP warns

Scotland is losing almost a whole-time equivalent GP each week, RCGP Scotland has warned, as the college launched a campaign to boost the primary care workforce.

UK-wide the RCGP has warned that almost 600 GP practices could be forced to close in the next four years because the country faces a shortfall of nearly 10,000 GPs by 2020.

In Scotland the college predicts a shortfall of 830 GPs by 2020, and RCGP Scotland has warned that workforce data suggest GP numbers are dropping by almost one whole-time equivalent per week.

The estimate is based on workforce data published by Scotland's Information Services Division earlier this year, which showed that numbers of practices with vacant GP posts had doubled in the past two years.

GP workforce

The figures showed that Scotland lost 90 whole-time equivalent GPs over two years from 2013 to 2015, equivalent to one every eight days.As part of a campaign to tackle the growing GP crisis, the RCGP has launched a video and guide to attract new recruits into the profession by highlighting the varied role and workload of modern GPs.

The 'Think GP' campaign shows that GPs are expert generalists who must be prepared to handle any conditions that come through their door, and look after whole communities from cradle to grave and highlights the increasing move towards federations, super practices and general practice at scale.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said: 'The startling realisation that Scotland will likely have lost a further dozen GPs even since the [latest] worrying workforce figures were published in mid-June will, we hope, encourage all concerned in the GP crisis to redouble their efforts. I am proud that the college is doing all it can to contribute to that work and this new video and guide illustrate what a fantastic career can be enjoyed in the best job in Scotland’s NHS.

'There is nothing like being a GP. We are the cornerstone of the NHS with 90% of patient contact with the health service coming through primary care. I can have someone come through the door with a concerning cough and help spot their cancer early. Ten minutes later I can be helping a nervous, expectant, otherwise unsupported teenager through their pregnancy. Ten minutes after that I can be helping ease someone’s mental distress, performing minor surgery or telling a relieved patient that their chest pain is due to a popped rib and not a heart condition. No other specialties get to do that.

GP careers

'It is a wonderfully challenging and fulfilling career that requires a combination of skills others in medicine rarely have , like the ability to deal with uncertainty. Scotland needs hundreds more GPs and it needs them as soon as possible.'

Responding to figures published by the RCGP, the Scottish Conservatives reiterated a call last month for general practice to receive 10% of the NHS budget.

Conservative shadow health secretary for Scotland Donald Cameron said: 'The royal college makes the scale of the GP crisis clear today. It estimates a deficit of 830 GPs in Scotland by the end of the decade. This would be devastating for communities across Scotland.

'We want to see at least 10% of health funding going to general practice by 2020. That will help ease the crisis we currently see in general practice. And it will help the rest of the NHS by enabling GPs to do more.'

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