The health service is already under enormous strain, with particular struggles seen in emergency departments, and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has admitted this winter could be among the “most challenging” the NHS has ever seen.
Dr Lailah Peel, the deputy chairwoman of BMA Scotland, said there “doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel”.
She said: “It’s terrifying each time I think about it.
“Yesterday I thought ‘it’s a better day actually, it’s only taking us an hour-and-a-half to see patients’, and by the end of my shift it was a five, six-hour waiting time.
“I think the problem is there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just getting worse instead of better.”
Dr Peel said there needs to be “open and public conversations” about what needs to be done to fix a health service she claimed is “collapsing”.
This week, leaked minutes of a meeting caused uproar when they showed NHS bosses had discussed the creation of a “two-tier system where the people who can afford to, go private”.
When asked about needed reforms, Dr Peel said: “I’d like to see open and honest conversations being had with all the relevant stakeholders, including the public.
“The system as it is at the moment just isn’t working.
“We need to change it, we need to accept that we can’t do everything we’re doing right now, whether that would mean de-prioritising some things, prioritising others, we need to be having open and public conversations about what the future of the NHS involves.”
Asked if the public understands the extent of the problems facing the NHS, Dr Peel said: “Not at all.”
She added that she hopes politicians understand the problem, but “I’m not seeing enough to show that”.
Responding on the BBC Sunday Show, Justice Secretary Keith Brown acknowledged the NHS is in a “serious situation”.
He added: “I think we should have a wide-ranging conversation (about the future of the NHS) but it’s important to underline the fact that both the First Minister and Humza Yousaf have said we’re not going to detract from the single focus of being free at the point of use.
“But yes, of course we should have that conversation.”