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800 more GPs for Scotland

Published: 1 Dec 2017 10:20

New measures to improve recruitment and retention.

The Scottish Government will aim to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.

Health Secretary Shona Robison told GPs at a special BMA conference that the move will ensure long term sustainability of GP practice. There are currently around 4,900 GPs in Scotland.

Ms Robison also announced £7.5 million in 2018-19 to recruit and retain GPs, particularly in rural areas. Support will be available for all 160 rural and remote practices, including ‘golden hello’ payments of £10,000 to GPs taking up their first post in a rural practice and relocation packages of up to £5,000.

Further details on how the GPs will be recruited will be in the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Primary Care workforce plan.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“GPs are an integral and crucial part of our health service.

“The new GP contract, a historic joint agreement between the Scottish Government and the BMA, will ensure that GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy. If accepted, it will help cut doctors’ overall workload and make general practice an even more attractive career prospect.

“However we want to go further. As multi-disciplinary teams are developed further within GP practices, our ambition is to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over ten years to ensure a sustainable service for the future.

“GP recruitment concerns are not unique to Scotland, however our commitment to invest £7.5 million, including expanding the remote and rural incentive scheme and relocation funds, should have a real impact going forward.

“Ultimately, this will ensure people across Scotland continue to receive a high standard of care whether they’re in Newtonmore or Newton Mearns, and that those who need to see GPs are given the time they need.”

Chair of BMA Scotland's GP Committee Dr Alan McDevitt said:

“Working towards delivering 800 additional GPs for Scotland is a sensible and realistic target for the years ahead and I look forward to the coming primary care workforce plan that will show how this is to be achieved.

“Together with the wider measures in the proposed contract to make general practice a more attractive career, I believe that this can have a significant impact on improving GP recruitment and retention.”

Planned actions include:

  • Funding of £100 million next year to support implementation of the new proposed GP contract, agreed jointly with the British Medical Association (BMA), which will be voted on by GPs across the country in the coming weeks
  • Continued professional development and mentoring support for GPs in their first five years of their career and coaching sessions to encourage and support GPs towards the end of their careers
  • A new staying in practice scheme for those near the end of their career considering leaving general practice early
  • Running an intensive recruitment campaign to boost the number of GPs who wish to work in Scotland
  • Continuing to provide bursaries for a number of GP training places in specific areas to make it a more attractive proposition