A shortage of GPs has forced many family doctors to work harder and longer to provide care within their communities. The RCGP has warned that Scotland needs an extra 856 full-time GPs by 2021 - an increase of more than 15%.
RCGP Scotland chair Dr Carey Lunan described the findings as ‘very worrying’. She said: ‘The GP shortage has been putting GPs under increasing pressure to provide a safe and sustainable 24-hour service to ensure that all patients receive care as and when they need it.
‘GPs working in daytime services have told me that they are now routinely working 12- to 13-hour days without taking time for breaks.
GPs under pressure
'It is clear from these findings that this pressure is taking its predictable toll on Scotland’s family doctors. That can only have negative knock-on effects for how able GPs are to provide for the health of our patients.’
Findings from the RCGP survey come just a month after official NHS statistics on the GP workforce revealed that one in every 18 shifts in Scottish general practice were unfilled. Official data show that one in four Scottish practices reported at least one unfilled session when surveyed in August 2017, compared with 9% four years earlier.
The college has launched a further survey to explore the link between GP workload and wellbeing.
Dr Lunan added: ‘For the sake of the profession, for our patients, and for the future of the NHS as a whole, we need to ensure that GPs are valued, supported and empowered. That will encourage GPs to enter and remain in the profession and help ensure the future of Scottish general practice.’