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Patient safety fears could push ‘one in ten’ GPs into retirement

Nearly a tenth (9%) of Scotland’s GPs plan to leave general practice in 2017 as a lack of resources puts patients’ care at risk, a new survey from RCGP Scotland has revealed.

The poll found that 77% of GPs in Scotland were concerned that they might miss something serious with a patient because of their workload, with 93% of respondents saying that without more resources, waiting times will increase.

The situation looks to get worse, with just under 60% of all GPs in Scotland saying that they would either leave the profession or reduce their hours in the next five years.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said that GPs were ‘deeply concerned’ about the welfare of their patients as a result of a decade of cuts to the percentage share of funding the service receives, noting that funding hare had fallen to 7.4% in 2014/15 from 9.8% in 2005/06.

Dr Mack said: ’A wholesale departure of GPs now looks likely given the current conditions the profession faces. In that instance, patient safety will clearly suffer.’

He urged NHS Scotland to commit 11% of spending to general practice, in line with NHS England’s rescue package which has promised that funding for the profession will rise to ’over 10%’ of overall spend.

The RCGP said that NHS England was no longer in ‘denial’ about the state of the service and it needed to hear ‘urgently’ that political parties in Scotland replicate what ‘has happened south of the border’.

NHS England published its GP Forward View rescue package last week to mixed reviews. While most GPs welcomed NHS England’s recognition of the crisis facing the profession, many leading GPs said that the reforms offered by the package were ‘too little, too late’.