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At the heart of general practice since 1960

New recruitment worries as Scottish GP numbers fall

New official workforce figures show the number of whole-time equivalent GPs in Scotland has fallen.

Although the total number of GPs rose by 17 to 4,167 in the year to last October, the number of whole-time equivalents dropped by two.

Scottish GPC joint-chair Dr David Love described the figures as 'very alarming'.

He said: 'This is the first year we have seen a reduction in the workforce numbers and although there are more part-time GPs they cannot fill full-time vacancies.'

The number of vacancies stood at an all-time high of 73 last October, compared with 42 in 2001 and 24 in 1990.

The total number of female GPs in Scotland leapt by 65 per cent between 1990 and 2002. In 2002, 39 per cent of principals were women, compared with 26 per cent in 1990.

The figures point to a potential retirement timebomb, with more than 56 per cent of GPs in Scotland now aged between 40 and 55.

Dr Love said the latest figures were 'just the beginning of the kind of meltdown we have been predicting for some time'. He said the new contract was 'the only possible

salvation'.

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