GP practices in Scotland must receive a “substantial increase” in funding as current levels are “grossly inadequate” to meet the needs of patients, a conference has heard.
Dr Mary Church, from the British Medical Association’s Scottish Council, said funding for general practice had fallen from over 10 per cent of the NHS budget to less than 8 per cent, despite increasing workload and “unrelenting demand”.
“It’s no wonder we’re hearing stories which would make you weep, of GPs under intolerable stress, affecting their own health and family life,” she said.
“GPs are retiring early as they just can’t continue in this environment. Young doctors appalled at the circumstances they may be asked to work under are choosing alternative careers or leaving the UK altogether.”
Dr Church pointed to recent problems reported in England, with practices having to close due to sudden cuts in their funding.
“The Scottish Government should not be complacent and pretend everything is rosy in the Scottish NHS, because it’s not,” she added.
“General Practice in England is in crisis now but those early signs which were ignored south of the border are all too evident in Scotland.”
She said these signs included the fact it was becoming more difficult to recruit doctors, meaning practices had already been forced to close, as well as high rates of stress-related illness among GPs.
More work moving from hospitals into the community also meant GPs were under additional strain, Dr Church said.
“Add all this together and it’s no wonder it’s so difficult to get an appointment with your GP,” she told delegates.
“This intolerable situation is not fair on doctors but most of all not fair on patients.”
The conference backed calls for increases in funding for Scottish general practice, without funding being taken away from other parts of the NHS.