Scottish GPs demand premises investment as population soars

GPs in Scotland have called for increased investment in practice premises after the country's population rose to its highest ever level following nine years of continuous growth.

Dr Andrew Buist: Scotland needs premises investment (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)
Dr Andrew Buist: Scotland needs premises investment (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)

A report on population growth from Scotland's registrar general published yesterday revealed that in mid 2011 Scotland’s population reached 5.25m, the highest level recorded, after continuously growing since 2002.

Now GPC Scotland is calling for more investment in GP premises to cope with the increase in population and to improve access.

Deputy chairman of GPC Scotland Dr Andrew Buist said increasing lists sizes were undermining access to primary care services. He said: ‘At present there is no requirement for planning departments to consider the impact of population growth on local health services, we believe that it would make sense to include this as part of the planning process.

‘General practice is very much at the heart of local communities and the care we provide is valued by our patients. Everyone needs to have access to their GP at some point in their life, from immunisation of babies to care for the elderly. If we are to improve access and provide the range of services that patients need, then we have to make sure we have the capacity to deliver.’

Scotland’s population peaked at 5.24m in 1974 before falling to 5.05m in 2002. It then increased each year, reaching 5.25m in 2011.

Scotland’s registrar general George MacKenzie said the pattern of population change is complex. He said: ‘In 2011, the number of deaths in Scotland dropped to 53,661, the lowest annual total since registration began in 1855. But life expectancy is still lower than in many other European Union countries.

‘Despite this, the number of older people has increased and this has contributed to a rise in the number of households. This is likely to continue, with an anticipated increase of 63 per cent in the number of people aged 65 or over by 2035.

‘In the 12 months between July 2010 and June 2011, around 43,700 people came to Scotland from the rest of the UK and a similar number from overseas. Most migrants to Scotland are young, aged between 16 and 34.’

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