More than a quarter of practices north of the border have a GP post vacant, according to ‘extremely troubling’ new statistics produced by the BMA.
A BMA workforce survey, which received responses from 500 practices – over half of Scotland’s 975 total practices – found that 26% had at least one vacancy.
Out of these, 41% said a post had been vacant for six months or longer.
The figures show a deepening of the Scottish GP recruitment crisis since the same survey was carried out last year, when 17% of practices reported having at least one GP vacancy.
Speaking ahead of the annual meeting of Scottish LMCs on Friday, Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt said the figures showed that ’the Scottish Government needs to commit to improving recruitment and retention, as well as to increased funding to general practice and primary care’.
He said: ’The fact that more than one in four GP practices in Scotland had a vacant position in this snapshot survey is extremely troubling. It indicates that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice we have been warning of have become significantly worse over the last year…
’Every unfilled vacancy puts more and more strain on remaining GPs who must struggle to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with rapidly increasing demands on GP services.’
RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said: ’These numbers are very worrying indeed. They illustrate a year’s percentage terms increase in GP vacancies across Scotland of over half again. With the percentage share of NHS Scotland funding spent on GP services falling consistently over the past decade, however, one wonders what other result was expected…
’We are in complete agreement with Dr McDevitt in his call for increased funding. It must go directly to grassroots practices to provide services to patients as a clear signal of the intention to invest further resources in general practice in the future.’
Pulse’s most recent vacancy rate survey, carried out a year ago, found that 9% of all UK GP posts were vacant, a 50% worsening of the year before and at its highest rate ever.