Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said the Scottish Government is presiding over a GP crisis after new research uncovered posts vacant for 2 years and others advertised 8 times without success.
Through freedom of information requests, the party has found:
- A post vacant for 2 years in Forth Valley;
- A post vacant for 22 months in Dumfries and Galloway;
- A post vacant since July 2016 in Highland;
- Vacant posts advertised 8 times in Shetland, each only receiving a single application during that time;
- A post advertised 3 times in Grampian without a single application.
The posts are in GP practices run directly by health boards. The majority of GPs are not health board employees, instead entering into a contract to provide services to patients, effectively meaning they are self-employed.
This research is comes ahead of the publication of the results of the National Primary Care Workforce Survey on Tuesday (6 March).
Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:
"Staff at GP surgeries do amazing work but it is clear that many are at their wits end.
"This new research is an insight into the difficulties facing GPs in every corner of the country. Posts have lain empty for two years. Others have been advertised again and again without success.
"Just this week we saw another practice announce that it will end its contract. We are seeing GPs retiring, failed recruitment schemes, practices closing and others restricting access. It is already projected that we will be more than 850 GPs short by 2021 and it will be even worse if the Tories press ahead with a hard Brexit that will deprive our NHS of essential staff.
"SNP ministers can't continue to deny that there is a crisis. Attracting new staff is going to be hard until the pressure on GP services is alleviated.
"The prescription is clear. Doctors have described years of 'systematic disinvestment' and that must end. The Scottish Government also needs to agree to embed a mental health practitioner in every GP surgery. This will help end the scandal of people waiting years for treatment, ensure surgeries are better equipped to treat those suffering mental ill health and reduce some of the pressure on GPs."