More than third of GPs say workload ‘unmanageable’

MORE than a third of Scotland’s GPs say their workload is “unmanageable” and they would not choose to go into general practice if they were starting out, a new survey has found.

Almost half of the GPs surveyed were not aware of the Scottish Governments Primary Care plan aimed at easing pressure on the service. Picture: PA

More than half want to see the Government’s Quality and Outcomes Framework scrapped, according to the study by the Liberal Democrats.

The party questioned 389 GPs from 352 practices across Scotland and found that almost half (47.51 per cent) were not aware of the Scottish Government’s Primary Care plan aimed at easing pressure on the service.

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Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The results are damning. The headline finding that more than three in ten GPs would not opt for general practice if they were making the career choice now reveals the depth of the crisis. They identify workload as a major reason with only a small fraction reporting that their workload is manageable. The remainder report that the workload is unmanageable or heavy at times.”

The party leader launched the study during a visit to a GP practice in Stockbridge, Edinburgh yesterday.

Inappropriate and unresourced transfer of workload from secondary care, general workload issues and constant changes to contracts were cited as the main causes of concern in the survey by the party.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of GPs had never heard of the government’s primary care plan, but of those that had nearly four-fifths (78 per cent) said the plan was not sufficient to address the challenges. Recent reports have also indicated that up to a third of GPs want to retire in the next five years which could make the problems worse.

The findings of the survey were backed by doctors’ leaders.

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland), said: “These survey results are certainly worrying. We are repeatedly getting stories of increasing workload and difficulty recruiting GP partners and salaried doctors from across Scotland.”

He said 11 per cent of Scotland’s NHS budget should go into general practice.

BMA Scotland’s GP Committee chairman Dr Alan McDevitt said: “The findings of this survey underline why it is so important that more is done to make general practice an attractive career choice for doctors, if problems in recruitment and retention are to be addressed.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said last night that £60 million is being invested in primary care over the next three years by the SNP government.

She added: “The number of GPs working in Scotland has risen to a record high under this government – but we will go on working with family doctors and their representatives to help meet the undoubted challenges the profession faces over workload and recruitment.”