Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer has called for improved resources to tackle a GP retention and recruitment crisis ahead of a vote in the Scottish Parliament.
Greer highlighted the example of Bargarran Medical Practice in Erskine, where there are no permanent GPs after the lead doctor resigned because recruitment pressures have made his position “unsustainable.” He is the fourth GP to quit the practice over the past 18 months and the practice is now under the direct control of the Health Board.
Greer, the Green MSP for the West of Scotland, raised the issue ahead of a debate brought by the Scottish Green Party today on the issue of GP shortages.
The Greens have pointed to recent health workforce data, which shows that GP surgeries are struggling to provide the necessary care required by many communities due to a lack of resources. This is despite Scottish Government commitments to integrated health and social care services ‘closer to home’.
Figures from the 2017 Primary Care Workforce Survey show that the number of whole time equivalent GPs has decreased by 160 or 4% since 2013, while at the same time demand for services is increasing.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) predict that there will be a shortfall of more than 850 GPs by 2021, an unsustainable number which will increase the workload on already under pressure Accident and Emergency Departments.
Mr Greer said: “As Green MSP for the West of Scotland, I know how difficult it is for too many people in communities like Erskine to access a local GP. That’s not surprising when the numbers of full-time equivalent GPs has gone down nationally since 2013, while demand keeps growing.
“The Scottish Government’s health and social care strategy encourages healthcare provision within communities. We know that funding GPs is more cost effective than the alternative, which sees patients heading directly to A&E departments but that funding just isn’t there. The Greens brought this debate to force acknowledgement and action from the government before these shortages get even worse.”