Scottish GPs demand QOF is scrapped as workload hits intolerable level

An overwhelming 92% of GPs in Scotland want the QOF to be scrapped and more than half in some areas say their workload is unmanageable, a survey by a political party has found.

Dr Alan McDevitt: report highlights GP crisis in Scotland (Photo: Douglas Robertson)
Dr Alan McDevitt: report highlights GP crisis in Scotland (Photo: Douglas Robertson)

More than half of GPs in Lothian, Ayrshire and Arran, and Glasgow and Greater Clyde health boards said their workload was unmanageable, a survey by the Scottish Liberal Democrats found.

A report on the findings - The crisis in Scottish primary healthcare - shows that across the country 39% of GPs face unmanageable workload. Of 378 GPs who responded, just 4% said their workload was manageable, and 58% said it was manageable, but heavy at times.

A total of 42 practices in Scotland - more than one in 25 nationally - are now being run directly by health boards, the report points out. It also highlighted warnings from the RCGP and BMA that Scotland would be 740 doctors short by 2020.

Scottish primary care plan

The Scottish Liberal Democrats also hit out at government plans to tackle the crisis, highlighting findings that nearly half of GPs had not heard of the government's primary care plan, and that three quarters of those who had heard of it did not believe it would tackle challenges the profession faces.

BMA Scotland’s GP Committee Chair Dr Alan McDevitt said: 'The findings of this survey underline why it is so important that more is done to make general practice an attractive career choice for doctors, if problems in recruitment and retention are to be addressed.

'BMA Scotland has been working with GPs from across Scotland to develop a vision for the future of general practice and our current development work with the Scottish Government towards a new GP contract is a vital opportunity to introduce measures to manage excessive workload, ensure appropriate funding is in place and to make a career in general practice more appealing in the years to come.'

The report also highlighted 12 medical centres in Fife that were short of GPs, and shortages reported in Forth Valley, Lothian, Fife, Highland, Grampian, Dumfries and Galloway and other areas.

GP workforce

Scottish health minister Shona Robison said: 'The number of GPs working in Scotland has risen to a record high under this government – but we will go on working with family doctors and their representatives to help meet the undoubted challenges the profession faces over workload and recruitment.

'Scotland continues to have the most GPs per head of population in the UK, and spending on primary care per head has risen since this government came to office. But we know more must be done – both short and long term.

'That is why, as a starting point I announced an additional £60m to be invested in primary care over the next three years. This funding was carefully allocated after close work with the BMA and RCGP – who welcomed the focus of the extra investment.

'But this was always just a starting point for a more fundamental consideration of the future of primary care in Scotland. This is why we are working with the Scottish GPC to redesign the GP contract for implementation from 2017.'

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