GPs are drowning in their workload as staff shortages and budget cuts continue to bite, a Fife doctor has warned.
Dunfermline-based Susie Mitchell said she and her colleagues were working under some of the worst conditions ever and claimed pressure to reduce prescription costs was adding to the burden.
Dr Mitchell has called for more support from other areas of the health service to allow GPs to concentrate on patient care.
NHS Fife is currently trying to cut £5 million from its prescribing budget after being hit by a financial bombshell earlier this year which saw a hike in the price of vital medicines.
Changes by drug companies slapped an extra £1m on the region’s community prescribing budget overnight, putting key savings plans at significant risk.
Measures taken since August have already seen Fife save £1m and move from the second highest spending region in Scotland to the sixth highest.
But it has been made clear that further work will be needed, including giving GPs fewer medicines to choose from, cutting waste and only prescribing where necessary.
The action will also include changing patients from high price medicines to more cost-effective ones.
All of this will involve a lot of work for GPs, according to Dr Mitchell.
Speaking at a meeting of Fife’s health and social care joint board, she said: “My colleagues are working under some of the worst conditions of workload versus workforce we have ever seen.
“This represents a huge change in terms of workload.”
She added: “There are pharmacists in every single surgery now for maybe one session a week and it’s just not enough. We need more support.
“My colleagues are drowning in their workload and this is just another layer that’s been added.”
NHS Fife chief executive Paul Hawkins acknowledged GPs needed more support and said the challenge would not be easy to deliver.
“It’s about changing the culture. Everything we are doing is new,” he said.
“Some of the biggest issues are the culture of prescribing and the culture of expectation of the public.
“I know what GPs are up against with people who have been on the same drug for a long time but it’s about keeping that momentum of realistic medicine.”