Nobody could have predicted that such tough decisions would need to be taken

8 January 2021 

I wanted to begin my first blog in my new role as Joint Chair of RCGP Scotland by wishing you all a Happy New Year.

Despite the challenges that we are all facing I hope you all managed to get some well-deserved rest over the Christmas and New Year period.

Of course, general practice is a 24/7 service, and I would like to say a special thanks to those of you who worked in our Out of Hours service and supported the COVID Hubs over the festive season.

Decision to delay the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

While we all hoped that the COVID-19 pandemic could be consigned to the history books of 2020, this is unfortunately not the case.

The emergence of the new and faster spreading variant of COVID-19 in December and the subsequent, rapid increase in cases has led to difficult decisions being taken regarding the administration of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

You may have read Professor Martin Marshall’s update to members on New Years’ Day which provides some further context to this.

I understand that for those of us working on the frontline of the health service, news of the delay in receiving our second dose of the vaccine has been unsettling.

I know that it may feel as though the security offered by the second dose has been pulled away from us and the goal posts have shifted.

We are working in exceptional times and these feelings are valid and legitimate.

Nobody could have predicted that such tough decisions would need to be taken at this stage of the pandemic response.

While understanding the concerns that many of us hold, having reviewed the clinical evidence provided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and assessing the scale the threat posed by this new variant, together with colleagues in the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties we have publicly supported the plans to update the immunisation schedule to ensure that the vaccine is delivered to as many colleagues, staff and patients as possible as quickly as possible.

We believe that this is the best course of action at the current time and we will continue to do all that we can to ensure that the systems are in place to enable the second vaccine to be administered within the twelve-week window.

We are also committed to ensuring that communication between policy makers and the profession is as robust and clear as it can be and, together with colleagues from the Scottish Academy, we continue to raise this at a national level.

GP administered vaccines begin to roll out

The First Minister recently likened this stage of the pandemic to a race between the virus and the vaccination programme.

General practice is of course key to helping win this race and it has been incredible to see GPs playing a crucial role this week in administering the first of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine doses to over 80s across Scotland, with NHS Tayside leading the way.

This is a monumental moment for general practice and despite the challenges that have come our way and will undoubtedly present themselves in the coming months, this really is a first positive step forward in our fight against this virus. 

Certificate in the Management of Problem Drug Use

In February 2021, RCGP Scotland is re-launching our well-regarded two-part course Certificate in the Management of Problem Drug Use which is designed to assist professionals in primary care to help and care for people affected by drug use.

The ethos of the course is to promote reducing harm and drug deaths within a recovery focussed framework, with a holistic approach to helping people who use drugs, their families and communities.

This certificate will be offered at a heavily subsidised rate for all primary care professionals working in Scotland.  

Book your place on Part One. Applications for Part Two will open in early 2021.

See further course information and please register your interest by contacting

SIGN survey on chronic pain

Finally for this week, I wanted to let you know about a survey which is currently underway.

The Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network (SIGN) are evaluating the impact of evidence-based guideline SIGN 136: Management of Chronic Pain.

In order to do this, SIGN have created a short survey for health care professionals who have prescribed analgesics or opioids for chronic pain or worked/specialised in the area of chronic pain management.

This will help us understand the impact of the guideline on prescribing practices and approaches to chronic pain management.

The survey will remain open until 15 January.

Keep in touch

I am honoured to be helping to lead the College’s work at this crucial time for our profession.

I am always keen to hear from members and if you would like to get in touch please do not hesitate to email me.

Post written by

Dr David Shackles, Joint Chair RCGP Scotland

Dr David Shackles has been RCGP Scotland’s Executive Officer for Interface and Out of Hours for the past two years.

He is a practising GP partner in Perth, where he has worked for 26 years.

David has been involved in GP training since 1996 and still enjoys his role as a trainer. He has worked for NHS Education for Scotland as an Associate Advisor, helping to design and develop educational courses and resources.

David has a long involvement with RCGP, being an active member of East Scotland Faculty, representing them at UK Council.

Currently chairing the RCGP led Cross-College Interface Group which brings together the interface leads from across the Royal Medical Colleges in Scotland, David also represents RCGP Scotland on the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland.

Find courses & events

The item has been added to your basket.

Continue shopping

Go to basket

This item is out of stock.

Continue shopping

The item is out of stock.

Yes Continue shopping

An error occurred adding your item to the basket:

Continue shopping