About 2,000 new GPs are required to satisfy demand across practices in Scotland, according to a BMA workforce warning.
It comes as some GP practices in Glasgow were asked to suspended routine services to focus on acute care, while some branch surgeries have closed with staff redeployed to support other health centres.
In Lanarkshire, a number of GP practices have been open additional days including Saturdays throughout January to help ease pressures on the wider service, while NHS Ayrshire & Arran asked GP practices to move to only seeing urgent and emergency care patients, due to the ‘overwhelming demand’ across general practice.
Dr Iain Kennedy, chair of BMA Scotland, said the Government should be focusing on the medical workforce, where many patients are not getting the care they need.
Speaking to the Daily Record, Dr Kennedy, a Highland GP, said: ‘The workforce crisis in NHS Scotland, and indeed in social care, is my biggest concern. We know that GP practices are falling over in Scotland. Good numbers of practices are at the point of collapse and GP partners are considering handing their contracts back to the health board.
‘Because of a lack of GPs the existing practices are fighting over an ever-dwindling pool. It is really a dog-eat-dog situation where practice survival is where we are at.
‘My view is given the increased demands on the health service due to the ageing population and the fact we are dealing with far more complex patients, and because GPs are managing patients who are languishing on the waiting lists, I believe that the true figure is probably nearer 2,000 GPs short in Scotland.’
Figures published by BMA Scotland at the end of last year found that more than a third of Scottish practices had at least one GP vacancy, compared to just over a quarter the prior year, as well as the BMA’s wellbeing survey, which found only 18% of GPs would recommend a career in general practice.
Meanwhile, GPs in one of Scotland’s biggest cities have warned that ‘misleading’ reports in English media are fuelling abuse to their staff.
Glasgow LMC sent a letter to the city’s MSPs, warning them GPs are experiencing worrying levels of abuse.
The letter, reported in the city’s paper The National, said staff and doctors were facing aggression from members of the public because of ‘understandable anxiety and frustration’, ‘a lack of awareness of the position that general practice is in’ and ‘some misleading media reports particularly within the press in England over recent months.’