Young doctors are investing less time working in out of hours services than GPs aged over 55, official figures from Scotland have shown.
Scotland’s annual Primary Care Workforce survey showed that although a quarter (24%) of the GPs signed up to deliver out of hours services are under 35, they only work 13% of the total hours.
Yet GPs aged over 55 do a fifth (19%) of the work, while only making up 14% of the workforce.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, told Management in Practice that increased pressure on general practice has led to less GPs considering working out of hours.
He said: “Where there are difficulties in recruiting GPs to work in local out of hours services, Local Medical Committees are working with NHS Boards to try to overcome these problems.
“However at a national level, there needs to be a whole system approach, led by the Scottish Government, to look at how out of hours services are provided not just the role of GPs, but as part of the wider NHS system.”
All 14 NHS boards in Scotland responded to the survey, although the information collected is not complete.
More than half (56%) of Scotland’s practices reported that one or more GPs had worked extra sessions over the year.
Collectively the extra hours amounted to the work of 39 full time GPs.
Dr McDevitt said: “Rising demand for GP services and the increasingly specialist care provided by GPs means that general practice is working at full capacity.
“In an effort to meet the demand for appointments, many GPs are now also extending practice opening hours to include evenings and weekends.”