Scotland facing '˜devastating' GP shortfall by 2020

A warning that Scotland could have a 'devastating' shortfall of more than 800 GPs in just four years has sparked fresh calls for Nicola Sturgeon to tackle the 'crisis' facing family doctors.

Junior doctors outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the first day of their hearing as they challenge the governments plan for a seven-day NHS service. Picture: Getty Images
Junior doctors outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the first day of their hearing as they challenge the governments plan for a seven-day NHS service. Picture: Getty Images

Scottish Conservatives are calling on the First Minister to commit to spending more of the £12 billion annual health budget on general practice.

With the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) forecasting Scotland could have a deficit of 830 family doctors by 2020, the Tories want 10 per cent of all health funding to go to GPs by the end of the decade.

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Health spokesman Donald Cameron said the RCGP forecast “makes the scale of the GP crisis clear”.

A shortfall of that number in the GP workforce would be “devastating for communities across Scotland”, the Conservative MSP added.

Mr Cameron said: “Before the election, Nicola Sturgeon was on record saying that GPs must receive a greater share of the health pot. Yet she’s been utterly silent on this since.

“Unless she acts, people will rightly conclude that the SNP promised one thing before an election, only to bury that promise after it.

“We want to see at least 10 per cent of health funding going to general practice by 2020. That will help ease the crisis we currently see in general practice. And it will help the rest of the NHS by enabling GPs to do more.”

He spoke out as the RCGP warned the UK could have a shortfall of almost 10,000 GPs by 2020 – forecasting a deficit of 9,940 full-time posts across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This could leave 594 GP surgeries at risk of closure, the organisation added.

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said: “Scotland needs hundreds more GPs and it needs them as soon as possible.

“The First Minister has said that the percentage share of NHS Scotland funding general practice should receive should be increased. With that commitment expected to come to fruition in the coming draft budget, now is the time to become a GP.”

A spokesman for Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Scotland already has the highest number of GPs per head in the UK - and the number has risen to an all-time high under the SNP while we have increased the number of new training places for GPs by 100 across Scotland this year alone.

“That solid track record of delivery is in stark contrast with the chaotic situation under the Tories in England.”