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Scotland GPs see small increase in numbers after decade of no change

GPs in Scotland

The number of GPs in Scotland rose slightly last year after a decade of no change, workforce figures suggest.

At the end of September, the headcount for GPs in Scotland was 4,994, an increase of 75 GPs compared with the previous year, the Scottish Information Services Division reported. 

Much of the rise was made up of female GPs who now make up 61% of the profession.

The figures also show that 32% of GPs are currently 50 and over down very slightly from a high of 34% in 2014.

Since 2008, the numbers of GPs in Scotland had remained largely unchanged while the number of patients has risen by 5% with elderly patients increasing by 20%.

The Scottish Government said the figures showed they were making progress towards their commitment to increasing the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: ‘To build on this we are investing a further £7.5 million in 2018/19 in GP recruitment and retention.’

She added that by 2020/21, medical schools places would have increased by 22%, equivalent to an extra 190 places.

The new GP contract, backed by £110 million this year and negotiated with the BMA and GPs, introduces multi-disciplinary teams to practices to ensure GPs are able to spend more time with patients, and less time on bureaucracy, making a career in general practice even more attractive to younger doctors.’

BMA Scotland GP Committee chair Dr Andrew Buist urged the Scottish Government to build on its commitments made in the contract.

‘For a long time it has been clear that action was needed and we have seen the first positive steps through the new GP contract.

‘That has also meant the Scottish Government has made important commitments to deliver additional health professionals to meet patient needs in communities across Scotland, as well as promising to train and recruit a further 800 GPs.

‘These commitments have been welcomed by the profession and now we must see the detail of how the Scottish Government expects to meet its promises.’

He added that in the short term it was essential to retain GPs currently working and in particular focus on GP wellbeing in the face of significant workload pressures.