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New Scottish housing developments will overburden GPs, warns RCGP

21 September 2016

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The Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) has warned that plans to build thousands of new homes in Scotland will further stretch primary care services in the area.

Last week, Springfield Properties announced it would build villages near Edinburgh, Perth, Elgin, Stirling and Dundee, meaning 21,000 people will be in search of a local GP.

The RCGP has said housing planners need to consider the impact of additional housing development on GP services.

Dr Miles Mack, chair of RCGP Scotland, said: “Any attempts to tackle Scotland’s insufficient housing supply must consider the impact upon local general practices, many of which are struggling to survive while serving the size of communities they are already responsible for.

“Many GPs simply do not have the capacity to deal with larger lists of patients. What appears to be good news for housing could have disastrous implications for the healthcare service.

He added: “Clearly, these people will mostly already be accommodated elsewhere but at a time when practices are restricting their lists across the country it is absolutely crucial that serious thought be given to the services for patients once they arrive in their new area.

“The planning system must take responsibility for the impact of decisions on GP services. Until they do, patients face uncertainty with the possibility of their practices simply buckling under added pressures.”

The developments will see 800 homes for the west of Edinburgh, 2,500 in Stirling, 3,500 near Perth, 750 in Dundee and 2,000 near Elgin.

According to the 2011 census in Scotland, the average household size is 2.19 people, amounting to nearly 21,000 people being added to GP practice lists.

The warning follows figures that suggest Scotland is losing around one GP each week and an estimated 600 practices to close by 2020, despite GPs in Scotland carrying out 16.2 million consultations per year.