Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP today warned that Scotland is facing an acute shortage of GPs as new figures revealed that the number of doctors taking up new GP training places has fallen substantially since 2010.
Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information requests have shown that the number of new GP training places filled across Scotland fell from 336 in 2010 to 241 in 2015. The number has dropped year on year since 2012. Last year, figures also showed that one in five GP training places was left vacant as doctors chose to practice in different areas of medicine.
The Royal College of GPs has warned that Scotland faces a shortage of hundreds of GPs by 2020 unless action is taken. The most recent official statistics showed that around one third of GPs in Scotland are set to reach retirement age within the next decade.
Commenting, Jim Hume MSP said:
“The failure to invest in primary care has left surgeries and doctors overstretched and under-resourced. It is no wonder that people are thinking twice about entering this branch of medicine. It is time that SNP got serious about supporting GP services.
“The Royal College has warned that Scotland is facing a GP recruitment crisis and one third of GPs are set to retire within the next decade. The situation is acute. The fact that the number of doctors taking up new training places has dropped year on year since 2012 underlines the scale of the challenge that we are facing.
“We need to see more GPs being trained or recruited but the number of students starting their training in entering general practice each year has fallen by almost 100 since 2010. We also know that many training posts are going unfilled, with doctors choosing to work in other branches of medicine.
“The fear must be that the extra training places announced by the First Minister last year will not help encourage more students to enter primary care or relieve the huge pressure on local GP practices. With dozens of training posts left vacant this year, SNP ministers must explain how they will ensure uptake of these and the 100 extra places they have announced. Welcome though they are, more training places will do no good at all unless there are doctors to fill them."