GPs are burnt out and government pledges to alleviate the strain will not be delivered without proper funding, a leading practitioner has warned.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said the new GP contract “will resolve many of the current problems facing general practice” but there was “a lack of willingness on the part of the Government to actually commit to adequately funding the new contract”.
General practice “may not survive” without proper funding, he told the BMA Scottish local medical committee annual conference in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire.
Some general practices will be unable to “weather the storm” and will run out of time unless urgent funding is delivered, he said.
Health Secretary Shona Robison has pledged to support GPs – insisting Scotland has more GPs per head than the other UK countries.
Dr McDevitt said GPs “are increasingly becoming burnt out by the mounting pressures and demands of running a GP practice”.
“I am worried that general practice is running out of time,” he said.
“GPs across the country are telling us of the rising pressure on their workload, with 26% of GP practices reporting that they are struggling to fill vacancies. This is simply not sustainable.”
He added: “My expectation is that a new Scottish contract will resolve many of the current problems facing general practice, that it will make general practice an attractive career to medical students, that it will give us that much-needed time to focus on those patients with complex care needs.
“Whilst we believe that our arguments and our vision have persuaded the Scottish Government, indeed much of the language used in our vision of general practice is evident in the recently-published national clinical strategy, there is so far a lack of willingness on the part of the Government to actually commit to adequately funding the new contract and the new primary care.
“Without providing a realistic planned programme of investment for the new contract and primary care, without providing a realistic planned programme of increased staff and GPs, without further meaningful measures to help relieve the pressures we are facing, then that shared vision and new contract will not be delivered.
“Unless and until the Government can set out the investment required to sustain general practice and primary care for the future, then the change we have started towards the vision will stall and wither.
“After the election, GPs will be looking to the first budget of the next Scottish Government to show that commitment.”
Ms Robison said: “Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of the population of the four UK countries and under this Government the number of GPs working in Scotland has increased.
“In December, Scotland became the first country in the UK to agree to completely abolish the existing bureaucratic and burdensome GP payments system, freeing up GPs to spend more time with patients.”
She said funding for GPs has risen from £704.61 million in 2007/08 to £852.6 million in 2014/15.