National Association for Patient Participation

More funding needed in face of falling GP numbers

15 June 2016

We were disappointed to learn today that the number of whole time equivalent GPs working in Scotland has fallen by 90, according to new information from NHS Scotland.

Scotland is already experiencing a shortage of GPs, and at the Put Patients First Campaign in Scotland we’ve been calling for 740 more GPs since this time last year. In the light of this announcement, the gap now increases to 830 GPs. What’s more, the national number of GP vacancies has risen.

Miles Mack, RCGP Scotland Chair, said: "We now need even more GPs than we did this time last year, despite the years in which our public campaign has been illustrating the situation to Scottish Government and receiving significant public backing. It is frustrating and worrying that those warnings have not been heeded.

We are concerned that the 100 extra GP training places promised in October 2015, to start this current year, have not come about and that we have yet to hear a timescale for their delivery. 20% of last year’s training places went unfilled. We need urgent measures to make sure those places are available and taken up.

There are large numbers of medical students qualifying who have not yet chosen to pursue a career in general practice. We want to change that. To be able to look after an ageing population with increasingly complex needs will need general practice to again be the most desirable career in medicine. It is obvious that additional resources will be needed to achieve this."

Funding increases such as the Primary Care Fund have been promised to wider primary care, but not to general practice. We need investment in general practice specifically before we can increase the GP workforce.

What’s more, we’ve just seen the government in England admit that general practice needed a significant funding boost. We will continue to campaign for 11% of the NHS Scotland budget to be devoted to general practice.

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