A stark new survey makes for “grim reading” and reveals the pressure is still on for GPs, and patients, across Tayside and Fife.
Figures released by the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland show the huge challenges facing the healthcare system.
Issues of workload and workforce are highlighted. And startling numbers suggest 83% of practices say demand exceeds capacity and more than a quarter have at least one GP vacancy.
But what do the results mean for you? Why are many still struggling to get an appointment, what’s being done and can you do anything to help?
We asked two local GPs who also sit on the BMA Scotland and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Scottish Government for answers.
Why am I still struggling to get an appointment?
41% of GP practices in Scotland completed the survey. And every single practice are carrying out face to face appointments daily.
But issues are still causing huge pressures including:
- Increased demand.
- Not enough GPs.
- Extra infection control measures to keep people safe.
Dr Buist, Blairgowrie GP and chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee adds: “It is not hard to see why there is huge pressure on GP appointments.
“To put it another way – the 500,000 appointments in general practice per week is still not enough to meet current patient demand in Scotland.
“That number of appointments is straining our workforce and GPs and their teams simply cannot sustain this indefinitely.”
Perth-based GP Dr David Shackles, Joint Chair of RCGP Scotland, said GPs and their teams have worked beyond their limits for the last 20 months.
He adds: “The survey results make for grim reading.
“While many may be shocked by the depth of the crisis facing general practice, those of us working on the frontline of the health service will be unsurprised by these findings.”
What’s being done to get more GPs?
More staff and better retention is needed to help tackle the crisis say GPs.
It is also claimed years of under-funding has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The Scottish Government says we have a record number of GPs working in Scotland with more per head than the rest of the UK.
A spokesperson adds: “We are pleased that trainee recruitment this year has so far been the most successful year of any of the last five.
“99% of GP training posts have been filled so far, with one recruitment round remaining, and we continue to develop our strategy for both recruitment and retention of our workforce.”
In addition, there will be an investment of £8 million this financial year in measures to support the physical, mental and emotional needs of the workforce.
What can others do to help?
There’s a need for more information for the public so people know where to go for services to help ease the burden on GPs.
Dr Shackles has called for “realistic public messaging to help manage demand.”
The BMA is asking politicians to provide honest messaging around what is possible for GPs at the moment.
Right Care Right Place gives information on when you can access services.
The Scottish Government is also increasing the Primary Care Fund to £250 million to support the expansion of multi-disciplinary teams to ease GP workloads and support services for patients.