GP crisis a ‘perfect storm’

The news that a third of GPs are planning to retire from general practice within the next five years is the latest revelation in a “perfect storm” of recruitment and retention issues.

A BMA Scotland survey, published today, revealed that 85% of respondents experienced a significant amount of work-related stress, while others criticised unresourced work being moved into general practice and highlighted insufficient time with patients.

This comes as new statistics showed that the number of GP surgeries in Scotland is at its lowest level in a decade. The average practice’s patient list has also increased 12% since 2006.

The news than more than a third of GPs are planning to retire from general practice within five years will be immensely worrying for the public.

With practices closing, patient lists expanding and an increasing number of elderly patients with complex health needs, GPs are clearly telling us that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients.

They are under pressure and stretched as a direct result of the perfect storm of recruitment and retention problems that the SNP Government has allowed to arise. It takes seven years to train a doctor, yet Scottish Government workforce plans only look five years ahead. There is therefore a very real danger that the GP crisis will get worse before it gets better.

The Scottish Government must immediately alleviate the pressure on GP services by bringing an end to its underfunding of general practice and increasing the number of staff, including a mental health practitioner for every surgery to help treat more people successfully.

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