A ticking timebomb hangs over Angus with a shrinking workforce increasingly unable to look after its ageing population, an MSP has warned.
The SNP’s Graeme Dey challenged party colleague and Health Secretary Shona Robison on what the Scottish Government would do as the pool of potential NHS staff dries up in the area, while the number of over-75s nearly doubles.
The Health Secretary was also questioned over the GP crisis in Fife, where a surgery has been taken over by an NHS board and patients lists closed because of doctor shortages.
Mr Dey said: “Projected population change figures for Angus up to 2037 predict a marked downturn in the number of residents in the age range that the NHS would recruit staff from, yet a sizeable increase in the over-75s, the age group most likely to require services.”
He asked Ms Robison if she was aware of the demographic challenges that are “peculiar” to Angus and how it would be tackled.
The number of over-75s in Angus is set to rise from 11,092 in 2012 to 20,916 in 2037, according to National Records of Scotland figures.
For all working age categories the population is falling, with the number of people aged 30-49 set to drop from 29,661 to 25,009 over the same period.
Ms Robison said: “We are aware of that challenge and we expect NHS board workforce planners, including those in NHS Tayside, to take full account of local factors, including the demographic to which Graeme Dey has referred, in preparing the required workforce plans and projections.”
In Fife, The Cannons practice in Methil was taken over by the NHS board because of its failure to recruit two GPs to run it.
In Kirkcaldy, eight practices have closed their lists to patients.
Responding to a question from Labour MSP Claire Baker, the health secretary said it is “not uncommon” for boards to step in.
She added: “It shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing if boards are taking over practices to make sure continuity of service continues.”
She accepted there is “a lot more to do” to ensure the sustainability of GP services in Fife and other parts of the country.