The British Medical Association has discovered that around 15% of practices in Scotland have at least one GP post that has been vacant for more than six months.
Of 514 practices that responded to a BMA GP vacancy survey – representing more than half of the 963 GP practices in Scotland – 74 (14%) reported at least one GP post that had been unfilled for over half a year.
125 were vacant in total, indicating that the majority of practices had more than one position available.
Across the 514 practices that responded, 171 vacancies were reported in total.
These were spread across 130 practices, meaning one in four (26%) of practices in Scotland has at least one vacancy.
GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt suggested that the figures are indicative of massive problems in general practice.
“The fact that more than one in four GP practices in Scotland had a vacant position in this snapshot survey is extremely troubling. It indicates that the recruitment and retention problems in general practice are not improving. Every unfilled vacancy puts more and more strain on remaining GPs who must struggle to cover the gaps in their practice while also coping with increasing demands on GP services.”
McDevitt went on to call on the British Medical Association to take drastic action in order to address the situation.
“The BMA is currently negotiating a new contract for GPs in Scotland, and addressing recruitment and retention issues is one of our top priorities. But in the meantime, we need to ensure that practices are being supported to deal with the problems they are currently facing. That is why the BMA is holding a speed dating event for GPs to try and bring together practices looking to recruit and GPs looking for posts.”
The chair of GPC in Scotland also suggested that the profession was not sufficiently attractive in order to attract new recruits currently.
“However, there is much more work to do to ensure that general practice is an attractive career choice for doctors.”
Many authoritative organisations have suggested that general practice throughout the United Kingdom is in a dire state.
The RCGP recently warned that the crisis facing general practice is deepening after ‘incredibly disappointing’ workforce data revealed a sharp drop in GP numbers in the final months of 2016.