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a stethoscope image cbDecember 5 2017

The Scottish Government has announced it will aim to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.

Addressing GPs at a special BMA conference to discuss the new GP contract, Scotland’s Health Secretary Shona Robison also announced £7.5 million will be spent in 2018-19 to recruit and retain GPs, particularly in rural areas. Support for all 160 rural and remote practices will including ‘golden hello’ payments of £10,000 to GPs taking up their first post in a rural practice and relocation packages of up to £5,000.

“As multi-disciplinary teams are developed further within GP practices, our ambition is to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over ten years to ensure a sustainable service for the future,” said Ms Robison. “GP recruitment concerns are not unique to Scotland, however our commitment to invest £7.5 million, including expanding the remote and rural incentive scheme and relocation funds, should have a real impact going forward.”

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of BMA Scotland’s GP Committee, said: “Working towards delivering 800 additional GPs for Scotland is a sensible and realistic target for the years ahead and I look forward to the coming primary care workforce plan that will show how this is to be achieved.

“Together with the wider measures in the proposed contract to make general practice a more attractive career, I believe that this can have a significant impact on improving GP recruitment and retention.”

Dr Carey Lunan, Chair of RCGP Scotland, said the College has been campaigning since 2014, through its ‘Put Patients First’ campaign, “for a significant increase in the number of GPs through which to deliver high quality, timely care for patients and ease the current pressures on the GP workforce.

“Analysis previously undertaken by RCGP Scotland has shown that Scotland is facing a shortfall of 856 whole time equivalent GPs by 2021. We have always been clear that if specific action isn’t taken to plug this gap, general practice faces an uncertain and unsustainable future and I am pleased that the Scottish Government has today gone some considerable way to recognising the severity of this situation.”

She also welcomed the pledge “to fund an intensive recruitment campaign to boost the numbers of GPs working in Scotland, and it is a positive step that more support will be offered to GPs in the early years of their career together with more to be done to encourage older GPs to remain in the workforce for longer.

“Of course, as with any announcement of this kind, we are keen to see the detail around this planned increase in GP numbers, and as practices continue to struggle on a daily basis, the College is clear that work needs to begin straight away to ensure that this commitment can be met. RCGP Scotland remains committed to working with the Scottish Government to achieve this vital growth in the GP workforce.”

Links:
Scottish Government announcement      
RCGP Scotland statement              

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