Scottish doctors have slammed the SNP administration for treating general practice as “dispensable”.
In a damning assessment of the Scottish Government’s support for surgeries, the Royal Society of General Practitioners (Scotland) warned the crisis in patient access to GPs “will get much worse”.
Dr Miles Mack, the chairman of RCGP Scotland, said the Government appears to have a “set strategy to erode or end the current role of the GP in family life” and replace it with a mystery alternative.
Communities across Tayside and Fife have suffered from critical shortages of family doctors and the outlook is bleaker still with a third of GPs due to retire in the next 10 years.
Dr Mack warned the Scottish Government back in September that the decade of cuts “could be taken as a deliberate policy of reduction of the service”.
“Now that we have asked for and gained clarity on 2016/17’s provision for general practice, this draft budget, as we feared, confirms that view. General practice has been deemed to be dispensable in its current form,” he said.
He said general practice has only seen a 0.1% rise in its budget allocation under Finance Secretary John Swinney’s draft budget – despite being the area that sees 90% of patients’ NHS contact and amid a rising and ageing population, a GP workforce crisis and an 11% increase in consultations.
Nicola Sturgeon announced in October the number of training places for GPs will increase from 300 to 400 in 2016 as part of its drive to tackle workforce shortages.
The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.