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Scottish practices have lost 3,000 GPs in 10 years

by Léa Legraien
24 October 2017

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Around 3,000 GPs have left Scotland to work abroad since 2008, according to recent figures from the General Medical Council (GMC).

In a bid to retain and attract more doctors, the Scottish Conservative Party launched a new campaign called ‘Save Our Surgeries’, urging ministers to increase the funding that goes to GP practices.

The campaign states that the Scottish Government should invest 11% of all NHS spending into general practice ’to boost working conditions, recruitment and retention’.

Practices located in rural areas are the most affected by the GP shortages.

Last year, over a quarter of Scottish practices had GP vacancies, our sister publication Healthcare Leader reported.

With almost one third of GP training places remaining vacant in 2017, Scotland has the highest vacancy rate in Britain.

Miles Briggs, the Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, said: ‘Of course every part of the UK has lost doctors to countries like Australia and New Zealand in recent years.

‘But rather than point the finger elsewhere, the SNP must act on these figures and do more encourage doctors to come back – or not leave in the first place.’

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) warned that Scotland might soon be facing a further shortage of 850 GPs over the next four years.  

Vacancies are putting more pressure on practices, as they have to cover staffing gaps and are facing more patients’ demands.

In September 2017, 52 Scottish practices had to return under health board control, partly due to GPs retiring earlier, as they were struggling to meet their commitments.

But those so-called ‘2c’ practices generate more costs for the NHS, reduce GPs’ roles and offer less continuity of care for patients.    

‘Scotland’s GP’s are at the forefront of our NHS – if we as a country can’t get general practice right and working to deliver health services across Scotland then the rest of our NHS will continue to be destabilised,’ said Mr Briggs.