It is ‘nearly impossible’ for patients to see a GP in North East Scotland because of staff shortages and practice closures, according to Tory Scottish MP Peter Chapman.
This comes as the GP recruitment crisis in Scotland is deepening, with a number of practices refusing to take on new patients.
According to Mr Chapman, this is now one of the top concerns of constituents.
He said: ‘Nearly 30% of the casework my office has received in the past six months has been about health and social issues. Because of the waiting times for physical and mental health conditions in my area, my constituents are suffering.
‘Getting to GP facilities in rural areas has often been difficult, but with the lack of staff and practice closures, it has become a nearly impossible task for some people in the north-east.’
It comes as in Lothian, more than 40% of practices have restricted access to new patients in some form, according to 2017 figures confirmed by the health board. The figure is up from 34% in 2016 and 30% in 2015.
And, across Scotland, practices have increasingly come under the control of NHS boards in recent years, as GPs retire and struggle to find replacements.
BMA Scotland’s GP Committee chair Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘General practice in Scotland has been facing significant difficulties in recruitment and retention for some time now, with the most recent BMA survey showing that more than one in four practices had at least one vacant position.
‘While GPs work incredibly hard to ensure that patient care does not suffer, it is inevitable that unfilled posts can lead to patients waiting longer for an appointment.
‘If we are to solve the recruitment challenges facing general practice, it is essential that being a GP once again becomes an attractive career choice for young doctors. That is what we are working towards in our current negotiations with the Scottish Government and it is essential for doctors and for our patients that we get it right.’