News

02.06.17

GP recruitment woes deepen as one in four Scottish GPs have vacant positions

More concern has been raised about GP vacancy in Scotland as the BMA found that more than a quarter of practices in the country currently had at least one vacancy.

The doctors’ group surveyed 963 practices in Scotland, receiving 514 responses, and found that as of 15 May this year, 26% of general practices had at least one GP vacancy.

More worryingly, of the 171 vacancies that were reported, 72.9% revealed that the position had been vacant for six months or longer.

The results of the survey follow many similar revelations from other groups, including the Royal College of GPs, which stated that improving doctor recruitment should now be a matter of urgency for health leads in the UK.

The problem has also proved to be UK-wide. Recent NHS England figures on GP recruitment, for example, have created a bleak picture for the sector, with the former parliament’s Public Accounts Committee warning in April that no progress had been made on increasing numbers in England.

“The fact that more than one in four GP practices in Scotland had a vacant position in this snapshot survey is extremely troubling,” said chair of BMA Scotland’s GP committee, Dr Alan McDevitt. “It indicates that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice are not improving.”

Dr McDevitt also highlighted that every unfilled vacancy puts more strain on remaining doctors who are struggling to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with increasing demand.

“The BMA is currently negotiating a new contract for GPs in Scotland, and addressing recruitment and retention issues is one of our top priorities,” Dr McDevitt added. “But in the meantime, we need to ensure that practices are being supported to deal with the problems they are currently facing.

“That is why the BMA is holding a speed dating event for GPs to try and bring together practices looking to recruit and GPs looking for posts.

“However, there is much more work to do to ensure that general practice is an attractive career choice for doctors.”

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