PATIENTS are having to see their GPs in “sub-standard rooms” during consultations because of a lack of proper investment, doctors’ leaders have claimed.
The British Medical Association has accused the Scottish Government of failing to address a GP “premises crisis” that they claim will only get worse as the country’s population increases.
Dr Dean Marshall, the chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, hit out as a new report on GP care was published that revealed doctors were continuing to “highlight serious failings in funding mechanisms for new premises”.
He described general practice as being the “cornerstone of the NHS,” as it provided “care for patients from the cradle to grave”.
And while he acknowledged that progress had been made on some of the key areas highlighted in a BMA report on general practice two years ago, Dr Marshall added: “So much of the plans of this government to improve access and provide more care closer to home rely on a strong GP infrastructure.
“Without adequate premises it will be difficult to provide the range of services and treatments that our patients need. In the 21st century it is wholly inappropriate that doctors are consulting patients in sub-standard rooms.”
The report also said doctors still had “concerns over the lack of consideration of health service needs in areas with growing populations”. Dr Jean Turner, Chief Executive of the Scotland Patients Association, supported Dr Marshall: “Patients are very tolerant of surroundings, and have been for years, because it has been very difficult to get decent surroundings.
“It is miserable for patients, and they put up with it because they know the doctors and nurses are trying to provide them with the best service.”
She said that if the government wanted effective community care and treatment, it would have to make proper provision.
The BMA’s progress report said there was a “shortfall in recruitment to general practice” which meant some positions, particularly those in remote and rural areas, were difficult to fill or could not be filled.
To help address the problem, it urged the government to “take the lead” in helping local NHS boards introduce “innovative” ways to recruit GPs for remote and rural areas.
In addition, concerns were voiced that the online and telephone advice service NHS24 had expanded its services “despite repeated concerns raised by doctors locally and the BMA centrally about the quality of its call-handling services”.
The Scottish Government said it welcomed the association’s recognition of progress made: “We have invested £75 million in practices since 2008 through primary care modernisation and a further £250m of community-based health projects are being delivered.”