With Scottish parliament elections just months away in early May 2016, the BMA Scotland leader urged politicians to set out how they could protect the health service in the face of rising demand and a 'growing funding gap'.
'The NHS in Scotland faces serious challenges and the country’s political parties need to focus on these issues as we move towards the Scottish parliament elections in 2016,' said Dr Bennie.
The warning echoes demands in a manifesto published earlier this year by BMA Scotland. Dr Bennie welcomed additional NHS investment set out in Scotland's draft 2016/17 budget but warned that pressure on the health service would continue to rise as the population aged.
GP funding crisis
'The struggle to recruit and retain doctors adds to that burden significantly,' he said. 'Unfilled vacancies put pressure on existing NHS staff, already dealing with high workloads. This is a concern that doctors express to us regularly, along with the belief that in the long term this will have a detrimental impact on their ability to deliver the sustainable, high-quality care people in Scotland need and deserve.
'BMA Scotland’s call to support Scottish general practice has also been recognised with the Scottish government announcing increased investment in general practice. This is urgently needed as GPs face huge demands in workload with the number of doctors choosing to train as GPs falling and a number of senior GPs set to retire in the near future. Extra funding for primary care development will be vital to support Scottish general practice as demand on community based services continues to increase.'
Dr Bennie added: 'The funding gap faced by the NHS set against rising demand and the impact of increasing consultant, specialty doctor and GP vacancies and unfilled trainee posts cannot be ignored and we must establish ways to make Scotland’s NHS a more attractive place to work.'