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At the heart of general practice since 1960

17% of Scottish practices have a GP vacancy

Around one in six practices in Scotland have at least one vacancy, a BMA study has found.

Published ahead of the Scottish LMCs conference today, the survey of 463 practices found that 17% had at least one GP vacancy,.

It also found that 75% said they had been unable to secure locum cover for at least a day over a one month period, while some practices reported they had been unable to secure locum cover for 15 days.

The conference is set to debate GP workforce issues and workload.

Dr Andrew Buist, deputy chair of the BMA’s Scottish GPC, said: ‘This survey provides a snapshot of the situation across Scotland and supports the anecdotal evidence that we are hearing from GP colleagues. Scotland is facing a GP recruitment crisis which is being further exacerbated by difficulties in securing locum cover.’

He added that the Scottish GPC was ‘calling on the Scottish Government to work with us so that we can improve workforce planning in the long term’.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Today I knew there would be bad news - more bad news and I was right.
    ‘Fail’ my Husband told me. ‘I’m sorry’ ‘Don’t be’, I said - it’s ‘THEM’.

    I knew he wouldn't pass he’s akin to the ‘Edward Snowdon’ of the GPST Programme and he dared to say ‘That’s NOT right’. I need not expand but he was patted on the shoulder and told ‘I will ruin your career,’ by his then Educational Supervisor.

    He was an incredibly ‘easy target’ - he was an IMG. The CSA Exam was his final hurdle AKT and WBPA passed. Almost £500000 of taxpayers’ money squandered because of OTHER doctors, ‘colleagues’, egos and incompetencies.

    He’d had it all:-

    ‘Yes we agree that is NOT right,’ said the other GPST’s supplying the ammunition, encouraging him to aim and denying all knowledge when he fired the bullets. Thanks Guys.

    His request for an interdeanery transfer denied three times as I struggled to cope with our severely Autistic son and, whilst during his training, our daughter was also diagnosed with Autism. Finally the ‘piece de resistance’ my own diagnosis of MS - (which, incidentally, was repeatedly both undiagnosed and misdiagnosed by my then GP - the UK graduate who handed me a print out from his computer headed ‘Globus Hystericus’) - two and a half years after symptoms first began and I had my first consultation. But wait ‘My GP Cares’.

    Eventually a transfer was grudgingly agreed too but he had to wait for a practice to agree to ‘take’ him. Call me cynical but a highly experienced doctor, initial specialization of General Surgery and experience of Plastic Surgery too would complement any General Practice in my book - but maybe I’m BIASED. Oh! But he’s the Whistle-blower, it’s a small community, he’s got a reputation for being a troublemaker - don’t worry six wasted months came and went and a practice ‘agreed to host him?’ Were they holding a dinner party? - Well they may as well have.

    Doctors are NOT educators they are DOCTORS. Sorry all you ES’s out there but the truth hurts? Apart from a miniscule number of exceptions and I’m sure you all know one. They have taken a ‘short’ course and ABRACADABRA they are now educators.

    With such stunningly useful ‘advice’ as to the pros and cons of ‘Take a chair’ or ‘Have a chair’ or my all-time favourite ‘What seems to be wrong with you today?’ Hello! ‘You are the doctor’ the most inane question ever in living history. It must have been oh so hard for the ES to know this trainee had more experience than himself and fundamentally, though did not have the matching ego, was quite frankly ‘a better doctor’. Not my own words but from those patients who stop me in the street, I’d say on a weekly basis, to ask me where is your husband, why did he go, when’s he coming back? ‘Colleagues’ telling him ‘you’d make a better hospital doctor.’ after all he wasn’t ‘one of them’ he was an IMG. The ES who did not look at my husband’s portfolio for nine yes nine months. That can’t be right I hear you say - I’m afraid it is so.

    He was easy prey - they knew they couldn’t touch his clinical skills so it came down to language. Not one person I know has difficulty understanding my Husband and I challenge you that anyone can - who’s not BIASED of course. Oh! There’s that word again.

    Enter Prof Aneez Ismail who proved bias against IMG’s WAS present in the CSA (Clinical Skills Acting) Exam. I use this terminology because obvious the GPST require an Equity Card in order to pass. It’s a shame the ‘actors’ playing the patients obviously aren’t up to the job as, at one of my husband’s exam sittings, one turned to the examiner and said ‘I made a real mess of that one!’. On another occasion the IPad didn’t work and on the last occasion the exam started 16 minutes late. No extra pressure there then Dr IMG - but don’t worry YOU won’t be becoming a member of our Club anyway.

    RCGP Shock, horror no not us - don’t worry a lot of it could be sub conscious. Enter BAIO with legal proceedings - don’t bother you’re not going to win. We’ve had this conversation with various people including MP’s - You can’t take on the NHS and win! I would imagine old school ties play a part somewhere there.

    A national day of action by doctors and nurses who are internationally trained would have had a greater impact. The NHS would have collapsed. It was sad that GP’s who are IMG’s silence was deafening. Voices so quiet we hardly heard a word. You should have spoken up, shouted out, talked a bit louder and been a lot prouder with your support. No – ‘but YOU’RE alright Jack.’

    I have heard stories of EU Consultants pointing to parts of a patient’s body and then giving a thumbs up and thumbs down sign because they don’t know the English word for a specific body part. The patient asked if he was drunk. The doctor couldn’t speak English but that’s alright if they are from the EU.Is that BIASED? No it’s downright dangerous.
    Our IMG GPST’s have sat an exam to prove they are bilingual and in some cases multilingual – what a benefit in this multicultural society.

    Incidentally why is the CSA Exam ONLY sat in London? Send up North some of your London GPST’s and I guarantee you they would not pass a CSA exam with the Doric and Glaswegian accents. The RCPS hold MRCS examinations in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Again disadvantaged my husband has lived in Scotland for years - more bias. I can’t understand some Londoners they don’t ALL speak the Queen’s English of course. Accent prejudice or BIASED!

    I’m no Quantum Physicist, but I could have passed that CSA Exam, if I knew how to perform the clinical examinations (of which I’m sure I could master fairly quickly - a little like the ES’s course) and I sure as hell could tell you the contents of those little blue cards.
    I know about the ‘Golden Minute’ and ‘correct safety netting’ if fact the job could be mine because I’m white and speak with a posh accent and it doesn’t matter if I say ‘take a chair or have a chair’

    So where did they get him? - Well! Well! Well! You guessed it good old Interpersonal Skills. Sad after a patient told him only yesterday ‘you are the nicest doctor I have ever met’ .Yes the ‘Have a chair/Take a chair’ was his GPST deathbed. I personally don’t go to my GP for his interpersonal skills I go because I am ill, I want a ‘correct’ diagnosis and I want assistance in curing or managing my illness. I couldn’t give a ‘flying foxtrot’ if he speaks softly/loudly, acts gay/is gay, says please/doesn’t say please or doesn’t even offer me a bloody chair. Attending CSA Courses my Husband was constantly told that ‘are you still doing it THAT way’, ‘we don’t ask that any longer’, ‘for goodness sake don’t ask the patient if they smoke or drink - it’s judgemental’. Complete lack of consistency in ‘training’ across the country.

    So when I left him at the RCGP Building in Euston I KNEW he wouldn’t pass. Not because he wouldn’t make an excellent GP but because your system is well and truly abysmal. I am not even going to mention the non-existent appeals system. How is that remotely fair? He is an IMG but worse still he dared to ‘rock the boat’.

    His plan was to move further west to the islands - ironically to where the RCGP were advertising for GP’s in LIVERPOOL and LEEDS last month? We could have got a horse for our autistic children and I wouldn’t have had to crawl up the stairs on all fours if he’s wasn’t home but that won’t happened now because he’s not passed. He hasn’t failed - he doesn’t need to tell me he’s sorry. I know it’s not his fault. It is SO many others and you know who you are. From what I know he’s experienced racism, ageism, sexism, bullying, envy and has been ostracised when virtually accused of theft of equipment which surprise! surprise! Turned up in a partner’s locked drawer when he returned after a two week holiday.

    What do you say to the vast number of IMG’s who, miraculously, managed to pass their AKT and WPBA but not their Clinical Skills Acting exam? Failing on many occasions by a few paltry marks?
    Careers in tatters, marriages failed, financial ruin, and suicide. These men and women who prop up your GP shortages acting as low paid locums. Yes you were happy for these GPST’s to see patients unsupervised but they weren’t good enough when it came to Membership. I wonder what the general public would make off that. And ironically as approx. 3,000 of your UK graduates last year boarded the first planes to Oz and New Zealand after having had £610,000 of the tax payers’ money spent on them. What do you say? ‘Don’t worry - you’ll be fine, you’ll be back on your feet in no time don’t worry but for you Dr IMG it’s GP Never Never Land’.

    How about ADMITTING that you were wrong and saving the last generation of IMG’s by reconsidering their membership after all NONE of the present leadership had to pass the Clinical Skills Acting Exam? You just picked a couple of your favourite COT’s, didn’t have to contemplate joining your local amateur dramatics society and certainly didn’t experience all that bias. If ‘you care’ so much sit down with the BAPIO and work out a way for that lost generation to ‘click their heels’ and leave the ‘Never Never’ you abandoned them in . Even a large percentage of your OWN members do not think the CSA Exam is fair?


    I told my new GP you would NEVER pass the CSA Exam when his clinic was running approx. one hour late again. ‘I know’ he agreed. He definitely doesn’t keep to ten minutes per patient rule because a good GP cannot possibly keep to this for every patient. Quite frankly I see this as a sign of a GP who DOES care.

    You have failed the general public too with your ill thought through bias - Hello GP shortages. Don’t worry though the ones, who are still left, care! Pity they are overworked and put under enormous pressure and stress due to the lack of ‘qualified’ GP’s


    He hasn’t failed - YOU have FAILED him and so many others. You ask yourselves why are graduates not choosing GPST and the GP’s you do have are resigning or emigrating.
    Well what’s the old proverb?

    ‘Physician heal thyself’ and soon it will be ‘Patient heal thyself’ too

    Shame on you.


    I’ll end on a personal note - because you’ve told me ‘you care’. You have lost a skilled physician but I have lost my Husband and the children their Father. We don’t recognise him any longer. Obviously this ‘training’ has had an adverse effect on all of us. So please do not try to punish us further - especially my Husband because he’s NOT the whistle-blower this time his Family are.

    So if you really want to ‘shoot the messenger’ then we, his Family, are ‘that messenger’ and we are oh! So ready for you.

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  • Una Coales

    Hopefully the Scottish LMC will better support IMGs, as iin my past teaching experience, Scotland drew many IMGs to fill their GP training posts and surgeries. Without IMGs, Scottish patients lose out big time. It was dedicated IMGs who went to train in the remote Hebrides, not Imperial College grads!

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  • Terrible story. BAPIO's Judicial Review 'decision' was appealable but they needed the money. Meanwhile the opposition used other people's money to defend themselves. The failure to video the exam and the failure to have two examiners would be unconstitutional in virtually every western country in the world.

    General practice is being destroyed by the GMC, RCGP and the bafoonery of the deaneries. Run by too many tired, grey haired old dinosuars who should have put out to grass decades ago.

    There needs to be annual ARCP panels for Educational Supervisors, Programme Directors and Deans with 'major events' being their failure to deal with or their own gross misconduct and their involvement with the bullying of trainees. Unfortunately, Deans are' associate members of the GMC' (another huge conflict of interest which is open to abuse). As interdeanery transfers are 'dean to dean' picking up the phone and undermining is always an option. Some of these people are the scum of the earth.

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  • Anonymous at 8.28 am....So sorry to hear your story. Thats a story that I am sure is repeated many times around the country. Yesterday I hear the astounding news that the system is going to try to fast track doctors from hospital specialities into VTS if they want to change horses!! What a hypocritical calamity! They will penalise those that all already in a VTS for not getting 1 mark needed to hit the target. How someone has come to the last attempt of their dreaded CSA and is deemed ` not suitable` but has managed admirably well whist in training, whilst as a registrar and had no complaints from anyone is beyond my meagre intellect. If the candidate is that bad, then the Deaneries and selectors for VTS should be held accountable for selecting unsuitable candidates, and if the incompetence is not picked up and acted upon to improve the candidates deficiencies or stop them in the tracks early on, the Trainers and Deaneries should be held accountable. This is sadly not happening. No one is accountable and careers and lives and families are being destroyed. The chickens seem to be coming home to roost. sympathies. God bless. May Your husband get justice and progress in life .

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