The latest survey from the British Medical Association (BMA) shows that more than a quarter of GP practices in Scotland currently had at least one vacancy.
The doctors’ group surveyed 963 practices in Scotland, receiving 514 responses, and found that 26 per cent of general practices had at least one GP vacancy. More than 70 per cent of the empty posts have been vacant for more than six months. The crisis in GP recruitment is a problem across the UK.
The findings from the latest survey follow many similar disclosures from other groups, including the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), which stated that improving doctor recruitment should now be a matter of urgency for health leads in the UK.
Latest National Health Service (NHS) England figures on GP recruitment have created a bleak picture for the sector, with the former parliament’s Public Accounts Committee warning in April that no improvement had been made on increasing numbers in England.
Dr Alan McDevitt, the chairman of BMA Scotland's GP committee said that the vacant position in Scotland is extremely troubling. The latest survey indicates that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice are not improving.
He further added that all vacant position puts more and more strain on remaining GPs who must struggle to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with increasing demands on GP services. Currently, the BMA is negotiating a new contract for GPs in Scotland, and addressing recruitment and retention issues is one of their top priorities. However, there is much more work to do to make sure that general practice is an attractive career choice for doctors.
Shona Robison, Health Secretary of Scotland said that the Scottish government would invest an additional £500m in primary care by the end of this parliament.
She recently set out £250m of this new investment in direct support of general practice, helping to transform the way services are delivered in the community - an approach that was agreed with the BMA, she added.
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