A £25 million flagship Scottish Government drive to attract more GPs has resulted in just 18 new recruits in the two years since its launch, new figures have shown.
The revelations have come under fire from opposition parties who say it goes nowhere near addressing the shortage of more than 800 GPs north of the Border which is predicted by the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland.
But ministers said Scotland still has more GPs per head of population than the rest of the UK.
The Tories are now calling on ministers to ensure that 11 per cent of NHS funding goes straight to general practice to help surgeries.
Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “It’s no wonder Scotland is in the grip of a general practice crisis when the SNP government fails so miserably to attract doctors to the job.
“This was launched with the promise of delivering GPs for rural and deprived areas. Instead, it’s led to a handful of new appointments which will barely have had any impact at all. Indeed, at this rate it would take this scheme almost a century to address the shortage of 856 GPs we’re expected to have.
“This is just another blatant failing of the SNP workforce planning, and the consequences on the ground are a population struggling to get a GP appointment, and those family doctors who are left feeling the strain.”
The three-year GP Recruitment and Retention Programme was set up by the government in 2015 with £2.5m of funding.
It aimed to take forward proposals to increase the number of medical students choosing to go into GP training, as well as encouraging them to work in rural and economically deprived areas.
In March this year, the government announced that cash for the scheme would increase to £5m next year, helping fund GP bursaries and expand a scheme to encourage retired GPs to return to practice.
Figures show the scheme has helped recruit five GPs in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, three in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, two in NHS Borders, one in NHS Lothian and seven in NHS Tayside.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said the programme is just one scheme to attract GPs alongside others such as the Scottish Rural Medicine Collaborative involving ten NHS boards.
“We have increased investment in GP services annually since 2007, investing £71.6m this year in direct support of general practice, including increased funding for GP recruitment and retention,” she added.