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BMA Scotland warns of impending crisis in general practice

The BMA has warned that Scotland is heading for a GP workforce crisis as too few doctors are being trained to replace those retiring or leaving the profession. The warning came as GPs gathered in Clydebank for the Annual Conference of Local Medical Committees yesterday.

BMA Scotland has produced a new briefing paper which outlines the challenges facing the GP workforce. It brings together evidence on morale, early retirement and the shortage of training opportunities to highlight the severity of the problem facing NHS primary care in Scotland.

Key findings featured in the report are:

  • One in five GPs plans to retire within 10 years.
  • Half of GPs report low morale.
  • Fewer new GPs are completing training.
  • Rural and deprived communities are hit hardest as they struggle to recruit GPs.

Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA's Scottish GP Committee said:

"General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and it is essential that Scottish Government recognises the importance of planning a GP workforce for the future.

"There is increasing demand from doctors of both sexes for family friendly policies, including part-time working. It is vital to support these policies not least to retain highly skilled professionals in the service, but with significant numbers of GPs now working part time, this represents a significant fall in the availability of GPs that must be addressed urgently."

The BMA report recommends:

  • The introduction of a step-down scheme for GPs approaching retirement.
  • An increase in GP specialist registrar places.
  • Encouraging training opportunities in rural and deprived practices.