Scotland politics

Scottish GP funding call after shortfall warning

Doctor checks blood Image copyright PA

A warning Scotland faces a shortfall of 830 family doctors has sparked fresh calls for Nicola Sturgeon to tackle the GP "crisis".

The Scottish Conservative party has urged the first minister to commit to spending more on general practice.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is forecasting the GP deficit will happen by 2020.

The Scottish government said Scotland had the highest number of GPs per head in the UK.

Scottish Conservatives health spokesman Donald Cameron said the RCGP forecast "makes the scale of the GP crisis clear".

A shortfall of more than 800 in the GP workforce would be "devastating for communities across Scotland", the Conservative MSP added.

Mr Cameron said: "Before the election, Nicola Sturgeon was on record saying that GPs must receive a greater share of the health pot. Yet she's been utterly silent on this since.

"Unless she acts, people will rightly conclude that the SNP promised one thing before an election, only to bury that promise after it."

The Scottish Conservatives want 10% of all health funding to go to GPs by the end of the decade.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The RCGP are forecasting a shortfall of 10,000 GPs across the UK

Mr Cameron spoke out as the RCGP warned the UK could have a shortfall of almost 10,000 GPs by 2020 - forecasting a deficit of 9,940 full-time posts across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This could leave 594 GP surgeries at risk of closure, the organisation said.

It is calling on the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to come up with plans to boost the number of GPs in their areas, pointing to the NHS England plan which aims to recruit 5,000 family doctors and an additional 5,000 other members of staff for surgeries.

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said GPs were the "cornerstone" of the NHS.

He said: "Scotland needs hundreds more GPs and it needs them as soon as possible.

"The first minister has said that the percentage share of NHS Scotland funding general practice should receive should be increased.

"With that commitment expected to come to fruition in the coming draft budget, now is the time to become a GP."

Training places

A spokesman for the first minister said: "We will take no lectures from the Tories on this issue.

"Scotland already has the highest number of GPs per head in the UK - and the number has risen to an all-time high under the SNP, while we have increased the number of new training places for GPs by 100 across Scotland this year alone.

"That solid track record of delivery is in stark contrast with the chaotic situation under the Tories in England, where the NHS has been gripped by unprecedented strike action from junior doctors."

The spokesman added that the Scottish government was "continuously looking" at how it could improve primary care against a backdrop of "continued budget pressures coming from Westminster".

Scottish Labour said the SNP could not continue to "ignore the GP crisis", which it said was the result of a £1bn funding cut to primary care.

And the Scottish Liberal Democrats said it had "warned the government time and again that primary care services in Scotland are in trouble".

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