Doctor shortage warning for Scotland

Written by Tom Freeman on 22 April 2015 in News

RCGP research says retiring GPs and population increase will lead to shortfall

Scotland faces a shortfall of up to 900 GPs by 2020, according to figures compiled by the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts the Scottish population is expected to increase by between 123,000 and 276,000 by 2020, and RCGP Scotland say an extra 563 to 915 doctors would be needed to provide primary care.

At the same time, around 20 per cent of the current GP workforce is aged over 55 and likely to retire in the next 5 years. Dr Miles Mack, the chairman of RCGP Scotland, pointed out it takes 5 years to train a medical graduate in general practice.

“These findings are very worrying indeed. There is clearly a desperate need for all Scottish politicians to put general practice at the front of their thinking and announcements and to emulate the commitments for England that political leaders there have given regarding sourcing and funding a much larger GP workforce,” he said.

Mack welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Labour party for 500 extra GPs in Scotland, and accused the Scottish Government of not facing up to a crisis in Scotland’s medical services.

“What a loss it would be if the other Scottish parties ignored the central hub of the Scottish NHS and did not seize the opportunity to save general practice,” he said.

Health Secretary Shona Robison defended the Scottish Government’s record, pointing to ongoing negotiations for a new GP contract and a 10 per cent increase in funding for primary care, however Mack also demanded information on where the Government’s £40m Primary Care Fund, announced six months ago, had been spent.

“Almost six months is a reasonable amount of time in which to consider the many options RCGP Scotland and others have suggested for the Fund’s use. The Government must now be transparent with their plans,” he said. 

Read Holyrood's interview with Dr Miles Mack in February here





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