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Scottish practices increasingly coming under control of NHS boards

NHS boards in Scotland have taken over 42 practices due to the continuing GP recruitment crisis and could be poised to take on even more, according to an investigation by BBC Scotland.

The survey found that health boards are having to intervene in urban areas when practices lose a number of GPs within a short space of time, in addition to the rural practices that they have often run.

They have had to intervene in Bannockburn and Kersiebank medical practices in NHS Forth Valley; Brimmond medical practice in NHS Grampian, as well as practices in Bangholm and Kirkliston within NHS Lothian.

Meanwhile NHS Lothian says it is planning to take over the management of Leith Links medical practice in Edinburgh next month.

NHS Highland admitted in the BBC survey of Scottish health boards that it was likely that ‘more practices will become directly managed in the future as GPs leave/retire’.

Scotland’s public health minister Maureen Watt said: ‘GP surgeries run directly by health boards make up a small percentage of the total number of practices in Scotland and it’s important to note that this number has changed very little over the past decade. This is a legitimate part of the GP contract and happens for a number of reasons. Often it is more appealing to GPs to be in a salaried post, and in rural and deprived areas there can be many benefits for practices to adopt this model.’

She added: ‘It is vital that practices work in a way that best serves the local community and this agreement gives them the flexibility to work with the health board in order to provide the best possible services for their patients.’

The BBC investigation comes after Pulse revealed earlier this month that practices in the Dumfries & Galloway region are in such a precarious position regarding GP shortages that any unexpected event such as staff illness could lead to a practice failing.

Figures released in July also showed that Scotland has filled just 240 of the 305 GP training places on offer.