ALMOST one in five trainee GP posts are vacant this year, according to figures obtained by Scottish Labour.
Of 305 places advertised to start last month, 66 remain unfilled with the highest rate of vacancies is in west central Scotland, a Freedom of Information request by the party showed.
We are facing a crisis in general practice. This is the result of complete inaction from the SNP Government in Edinburgh since they came to powerDr Richard Simpson
Scottish Labour’s Public Services Spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said it is part of a “crisis” in general practice.
The party is to launch a consultation with doctors on what issues need to be addressed.
The Scottish Government said the number of GPs is at a record high but it recognises “more must be done”.
Dr Simpson, a former GP, said: “It is now overwhelmingly clear that we are facing a crisis in general practice. This is the result of complete inaction from the SNP Government in Edinburgh since they came to power.
“We are seeing a drop in primary care share of funding, fewer medical students and now more vacancies remaining unfilled. Unless we see real action now this problem is only going to get worse in the next decade. Ministers can no longer sit on their hands.
“It affects every part of our health service, from missed waiting times for mental health to increasing pressure on A&E because people can’t see a local doctor.
“Scottish Labour has a positive vision to tackle the GP crisis. That is why today we will be launching a consultation on our ideas to sort out this mess, and ask GPs across the country for their ideas.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The number of GPs in Scotland has risen to a record high under this government. Scotland continues to have the most GPs per head of population in the UK and spending on primary care per head has risen since this government came to office. But we know more must be done - both short and long term.
“As the First Minister said in her programme for Government, we must support and transform primary care and that’s why over the next year, backed by our £60 million primary care fund, we will test new models of primary care in at least 10 sites across urban and rural Scotland as we develop a truly community health service.
“We will support GPs to work in clusters and develop new ways of working with district nurses, health visitors, community rehabilitation teams and health improvement services, and using different services such as intermediate care beds.
“We have also, for the first time, undertaken meetings together with Scottish General Practitioners Committee to listen to GPs all around Scotland, and have held joint discussions with all of Scotland’s health boards over the last few months about what the future of general practice in Scotland could look like.”