Red tape and a lack of support is putting off talented and qualified GPs from working in GP rural practices, it has been warned.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, Arran GP and RCGP Scotland council member Dr David Hogg said ‘plenty’ of GPs have cancelled moves to rural areas because the HR processes take too long.
He said this included a recent example of a GP qualified in rural practice who had been committed to a move to Dumfries and Galloway, an area ‘crying out’ for GPs, but gave up halfway through the lengthy process put off solely by the bureaucracy involved.
Dr Hogg further criticised the lack of a system to signpost medical students willing to work in a rural area where places are filled to other rural areas with training places available.
In the past year so far he has turned down 82 applications for the two to three student elective spots on Arran, the MSPs heard.
Dr Hogg told the committee that there was ‘a disconnect between the strategic aspirations and operational reality’.
He said: ‘We have to get to grips with the fact that when people move to a rural area and are keen to contribute to that community in a very effective way, it is not all about the medicine.
‘That’s the easy part, it’s the consideration of family, of spouses, of employment. There are other issues that need to be taken into account and it is the mechanisms that allow that to happen.’
Speaking to Pulse, Dr Hogg said there should be greater flexibility in the amount of form filling and documentation required.
He also said GPs willing to practise in rural areas should be offered support with accommodation, travel and relocation expenses.
He said: ‘If people are not able to be mobile within their own country, that’s when they leave the country altogether.’