More than one in four practices in Scotland have at least one GP vacancy, according to a British Medical Association (BMA) survey.
A survey of all of Scotland’s GP practices has highlighted the deepening scale of the recruitment problem facing general practice in the region.
Receiving more than 500 responses, a response rate of 53%, the survey revealed that as of 1 June this year 28.5% of practices had at least one GP vacancy.
This is a 2.5% increase on the BMA GP vacancy survey published in March 2016, which found that 26% of practices reported having at least one vacancy.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA Scottish GP committee, said: “The fact that over 28% of GP practices in Scotland had a vacant position in this snapshot survey is extremely concerning.
“It shows that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice that we have been warning of are continuing to get worse.
“The Scottish Government can no longer talk about record numbers of GPs in Scotland.
“The vacancy rate shows that there are simply not enough doctors to meet the demands being put upon general practice.
“Every unfilled vacancy puts more and more strain on remaining GPs who must struggle to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with increasing demands on GP services.
“The Scottish Government urgently needs to commit to improving recruitment and retention, as well as to increased funding to general practice.
“We are currently working with the Scottish Government on a new contract to make general practice a more attractive career choice, but it will take time to deliver more GPs.
“The Scottish Government must take immediate and effective action to support GPs who are facing significant challenges in maintaining quality services for patients under increasingly difficult circumstances.”
The BMA is convening in Belfast for the annual representative meeting from the 19-24 June to discuss themes crucial to the future of general practice.