Scottish doctor warns of 'biggest' GP crisis

Doctor and patient Dr Maxwell said an increasing number of GPs were considering careers overseas

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GPs are facing the "biggest workforce crisis in a generation", a Scottish doctor has warned.

Dr Hal Maxwell claimed the health service was "bleeding GPs at both ends of their careers" with more doctors needed if the system is to survive.

Dr Maxwell, a GP in South Ayrshire, said many doctors were leaving their jobs early due to workload pressure.

A Scottish government spokesman said the number of GPs had increased by 5.7% since 2006.

Dr Maxwell told the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, that a fifth of practices in his local area had unfilled vacancies.

He said: "I am a GP in rural south-west Scotland and have been since 1985.

"For the first time in my working life we have 11 out of 55 practices in our county with a vacancy, that is 20% of our practices with a vacancy.

"This is a problem across the UK but reflects the biggest workforce crisis in a generation."

'Reduced bureaucracy'

Dr Maxwell said an increasing number of GPs were considering careers overseas and trainee vacancies were remaining unfilled.

He said: "We are bleeding GPs at both ends of their careers. We need more GPs.

"We need to reduce the burdens on our present workforce if Scottish general practice is to survive in the long-term."

A Scottish government spokesman said the number of Scottish GPs had gone up over the past eight years.

He said: "The number of GPs in Scotland has increased by 5.7% since 2006.

"There are more GPs per head of population in Scotland than in England, and we also spend more on GP services per head of population.

"In addition, we have successfully negotiated a General Medical Services contract for 2014/15 which will substantially reduce targets and bureaucracy for GPs, allowing them more time to focus on their patients, and this includes a review of patient access by each GP practice."

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