GP recruitment drive has attracted only 18 new doctors, admits Scottish Government

Written by Tom Freeman on 6 November 2017 in News

Scottish Government GP Recruitment and Retention Fund has recruited very few into general practice

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The Scottish Government’s ‘GP Recruitment and Retention fund’ has managed to attract only 18 new doctors, Health Secretary Shona Robison has admitted.

The programme was first announced in 2015, which saw £2.5m fund a “range of initiatives” to plug a growing gap in the GP workforce as doctors retire early and practices struggle to attract new doctors, particularly in rural areas.

It was expanded with more funding in March.


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In response to a written question from Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs, Robison said five GPs had been directly recruited because of the scheme in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, seven in Tayside and six elsewhere in the country.

However, she added the fund had also been used to fund more GP training places at medical schools, and to develop a national GP recruitment website.

“The GP Recruitment and Retention fund was set up to explore with key stakeholders, the issues surrounding GP recruitment and retention,” she said.

“The programme has examined and taken forward proposals to increase the number of medical students choosing to go into GP training, as well as encouraging those wanting to work in rural and economically deprived areas.”

Briggs said it was an example of “blatant failing” of the Scottish Government’s workforce planning, pointing to the fact only 275 of 402 GP training places have been filled this year after two rounds of recruitment.

“This was launched with the promise of delivering GPs for rural and deprived areas. Instead, it’s led to a handful of new appointments which will barely have had any impact at all.

“Indeed, at this rate it would take this scheme almost a century to address the shortage of 856 GPs we’re expected to have.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex-Cole Hamilton said the UK Government’s handling of Brexit had also played a part in the number of doctors leaving the system.

“In surgeries across the country the recruitment crisis is causing staff to consider their own futures, yet just a handful of recruits have been secured through this flagship scheme,” he said.

“Between flatlining recruitment schemes and a Conservative Brexit disaster that is pushing vital medical staff away from the UK, the pressure on the hardworking staff who remain is intolerable and unsustainable. 

“It is time the Scottish Conservatives joined the case for an ‘NHS passport’ for EU health staff and the SNP put a mental health practitioner in every surgery, taking some of the pressure off GPs and ending the scandal of poor access to mental health treatments.”

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