Rising GP workload 'putting patients at risk', LMCs warn

Patients could be put at risk because rising workload and a growing workforce crisis have left 'most GPs' working 12-hour days and struggling to stick to 10-minute consultations, Scottish LMCs have warned.

Dr Thomas Philip: looming workforce crisis (photo: Ken Ferguson)
Dr Thomas Philip: looming workforce crisis (photo: Ken Ferguson)

GPs in Scotland have demanded long-term investment in primary care together with an increase in GP numbers, at the Scottish LMCs conference in Clydebank on 15 March.

The conference voted through a raft of motions raising fears about rising workload including one that said there should be no further transfer of unresourced work form secondary care.

LMCs backed a motion which said that the Scottish GMS deal for 2013/14 ‘does little to help with the overwhelming workload now faced by general practice’.

Ayrshire and Arran LMC secretary Dr William McAlpine who put forward the motion said: ‘Every GP practice will have to work harder and fit something into the ten minute consultation to try and meet the needs of their patients. Many will find this hard to do. Most of us work 12-hour days already. The ten minute consultation is at breaking point. Many of us are spending evening and weekends in the surgery just trying to catch up with paperwork.

'We have heard the rhetoric that the [health minister] minister is sympathetic to the view that we should be moving resources as well as work into primary care. But what we need to do is see some action. We need to have more GPs, more practice nurses.’

Dr Thomas Philip of Grampian LMC said that there is a ‘looming crisis in the GP workforce’.

‘Workload is at record levels’, he said. ‘Early retirement is set to rise.'

‘I urge the Scottish government to work with the Scottish government and NHS education to find ways to reverse the trend before Scottish communities, especially the rural partners end up paying the price for it.’ GPs unanimously baked his motion which called for the Scottish government to ‘reverse’ declining GPs numbers.

The conference heard how three practices in Fife recently failed to replace retiring partners.

Another motion which was carried said that conference is ‘concerned about a decrease in the quality of patient care and possible harm to patients if adequate resources are not directed to the community’.

Dr Stephen Haigh of Lothian LMC said: 'This is the conference to stop just talking about workload because we are not getting anywhere and to make the clear link between workload and patient safety.'

Scottish GPC chairman Dr Alan McDevitt said: 'Obviously we did our best to make an impact on workload with the agreement we did this year. It is limited. It is certainly not the answer.’

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