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‘We’re resilient, but we’re tired:’ GPs call again for more staff and a future plan

NHS Fife issue ID warning amid fake nurse scam
Tayside nurses feel they are back to square one.

Stressed GPs have issued another stark warning about the crisis the NHS is facing.

Two major medical organisations have reiterated calls for extra staff and a plan from the Scottish Government to protect health services for the future.

It comes as hardworking healthcare staff across the NHS prepare for a difficult and challenging winter.

GPs have warned demand outstrips capacity.

So what do GPs think are the issues? And what’s the Scottish Government saying in response?

What’s going on?

GPs have been saying for months now demand is high.

As well as more of us wanting an appointment, Covid is still creating extra pressures and GPs say there’s not enough staff.

In recent months we have seen reports of other pressure points including:

Emergency services attack
The ambulance crisis is one of the issues.

GPs say protecting the NHS is about three things:

In the short term:

  • Recruiting staff.
  • Keeping the ones they have.

And in the long term:

  • Planning for the future and what can be delivered.

So they just want more GPs?

No. Blairgowrie GP and chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, Dr Andrew Buist says it’s not just about extra doctors.

Dr Andrew Buist.

He says: “We need the physiotherapists, the pharmacists, the nurses who are all key parts of the multi-disciplinary teams we need in place.

“The pandemic has only underlined the importance of all professionals working closely to deliver the right care to patients from the right person.

“So we need proper strategic planning and a redoubled focus on delivering these staff to support practices across the country, and we need that urgently.”

What about staff working now?

Perth GP and Joint Chair of the RCGP, Dr David Shackles says retaining staff is important too.

Staff are exhausted and under strain – that’s why retaining our GP workforce is our biggest priority right now.

“Our survey shows 38% of GP respondents think it’s likely they will leave the profession over the next five years – we simply cannot afford to lose any more GPs than we already have.

Retaining the workforce is also important.

Dr Buist says: “GPs are a resilient group, but we are tired.

“The demands we are facing are huge and often beyond our capacity – I fear for the wellbeing of individuals trying to do their best and it not being enough.

“The government and the public must appreciate the GP service or they won’t know what they had until it’s gone.

“The independent contractor model has served the country well since the beginning of this NHS, but there are limits to which GPs can be exposed.”

What is the Government saying?

A Scottish Government spokesperson says there’s now a record number of GPs working in Scotland, with more per head than the rest of the UK.

They add: “We have significantly increased physiotherapy, pharmacy and nursing support to practices as set out in 2018 GP contract and remain committed to further increase this support.”

They highlight:

  • Trainee recruitment this year is the most successful of the last five years.
  • 99% of GP training posts have been filled.
  • There’s on recruitment round remaining.
  • They’re on track to deliver 800 additional GPs.

Last week a £30 million fund was also announced to support GP practices through winter and into next year.

  • What do you think of GP services? We’d like to hear your views. Email

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