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Almost half of practices forced to turn away patients in one area

More than 40% of practices in Lothian are restricting access to new patients in some form, figures confirmed by the health board show.

Of 122 practices Edinburgh and the surrounding area, 51 practices – or 42% – have imposed some sort of limit on new patients, including include only registering a certain number of new patients per week, or restricting registration only to patients moving into the area.

The figure has risen from a year ago when 34% of practices had restrictions on their patient lists.

Six months before that the figure was 30% – suggesting practices are increasingly feeling the pressure of recruitment and workload difficulties.

NHS Lothian said all but one of the practices it runs already had restrictions on lists before they took over.

Practices in Lothian have been hit hard by rising patient numbers coupled with doctors retiring or resigning and some practices closing their doors.

Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘It is concerning that so many practices in Lothian have been forced to take the decision to restrict their lists.

‘This highlights the extent to which workload and problems recruiting GPs are affecting practices and jeopardising their ability to provide safe care for their patients.

‘The BMA is currently negotiating a new contract for GPs in Scotland which we hope will address the significant workload pressures that are currently being felt by GPs and their practice staff.

GPs in Scotland have warned that promised additional funding for general practice in Scotland is not coming fast enough and multiple practices are at risk of collapse before the new contract is finalised later this year.

It comes as the BMA in England has polled GPs on their willingness to close their lists en masse to send a clear message to Government about unsustainable funding.