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Scientists could be fast-tracked into general practice, politician suggests

The GP recruitment crisis could be eased if science graduates were allowed to do shortcut training courses as a route into general practice, a Labour MSP has said.

Elaine Murray argues that people with degrees in history and chemistry can retrain as lawyers but that there is no parallel to allow students with non-medical degrees to make their way into general practice.

Her comments came during a Scottish Parliament debate on 1 September on how GP recruitment could become more sustainable.

Ms Murray, Labour MSP for Dumfriesshire said: ‘I wonder if there is a possibility of well qualified scientists, for example, managing to be retrained into medicine, perhaps with an indication that they go into general practice.

‘I am not suggesting that lots of scientists should leave science, because we know that there is also a shortage of scientists, but people with that sort of training might be able to be retrained. There is a loss of people from science, particularly women; perhaps there is a possibility there.’

She said the suggestions would ‘probably horrify the entire medical establishment in Scotland’, but added that retraining science graduates ‘would be shorter, quicker and less expensive than training people from scratch. It might be one of a number of possible solutions.’

Alex Fergusson, Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, said in the debate that almost 10% of GP positions are vacant in his constituency.


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