GP recruitment problems

A British Medical Association survey of Scotland's GP practices has highlighted the deepening scale of the recruitment gaps facing general practice in Scotland, with more than one in four practices reporting at least one vacancy.

Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 2:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 2:43 pm
File photo dated 25/1/2013 of a man with a stethoscope around his neck, as Government proposals to attract new GPs are "old, repackaged ideas distracting from the central issues", the head of the doctors union is expected to say today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday June 22, 2015. Dr Mark Porter will tell delegates at the British Medical Association's (BMA) annual representative meeting in Liverpool, that measures outlined by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Friday will not solve the problem of a mass shortage of GPs at the same time as the Tories strive to make the NHS a truly seven days a week service. See PA story HEALTH Doctors. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The survey of all of Scotland’s 975 GP practices received 500 responses, a response rate of over 50%, and found that on February 15 this year 26% of practices had at least one GP vacancy. This figure compares to a similar BMA survey published in March 2015 which found that 17% of practices reported having at least one vacancy.

Of the practices that reported having at least one vacancy, 41% indicated that this post had been vacant for six months or longer.

Scottish GPs will gather on Friday for the Scottish Local Medical Committee Conference in Clydebank to discuss the way forward for general practice in Scotland.

Commenting, Chair of BMA Scotland’s GP Committee Dr Alan McDevitt said: “The fact that more than one in four GP practices in Scotland had a vacant position in this snapshot survey is extremely troubling. It indicates that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice we have been warning of have become significantly worse over the last year.

“It is not enough to talk about record numbers of GPs in Scotland when the vacancy rate shows that there are simply not enough doctors to meet the demands being put upon general practice.

“Every unfilled vacancy puts more and more strain on remaining GPs who must struggle to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with rapidly increasing demands on GP services.

“The Scottish Government needs to commit to improving recruitment and retention, as well as to increased funding to general practice and primary care.

“Steps to ease the unmanageable workload on GPs such as the abolition of QOF will help the profession, but a lot more must be done if general practice is to once again be an attractive career choice for doctors.”