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Latest Scottish GP workforce stats are ‘worrying’ say RCGP

New workforce statistics reflect the ‘deeply challenging’ frontline environment in which GPs in Scotland are currently working, according to the Royal College of GPs.

New workforce statistics reflect the ‘deeply challenging’ frontline environment in which GPs in Scotland are currently working, according to the Royal College of GPs.

The College said that the workforce update from NHS Education for Scotland lays bare the failure to adequately staff general practice in Scotland.

The GP headcount (excluding specialist trainees) decreased from 4,514 in 2022 to 4,474 in 2023, a decrease of 0.9%. In addition, GP whole time equivalent (excluding specialist trainees) decreased from 3,493.9 in 2022 to 3,478.4 in 2023, a decrease of 0.4%.

In contrast, the number of registered patients in Scotland has increased by 2.1% over the past two years and Scotland’s population is continuing to age, with a 50% increase in over 60s projected by 2033.

Dr Chris Provan, Chair of RCGP Scotland said: “At a time of rising demand, a growing and aging population, and the long tail of Covid-19, it is highly worrying that the number of GPs in Scotland is on an opposite trajectory. The Scottish government is not on track to meet its commitment of 800 new GPs by 2027, having added only 271 in the past 6 years.

“On behalf of our members and patients alike, RCGP Scotland continues to call for Scottish government to address the profound issues of workforce, workload and welfare within general practice. We will continue to work constructively with the Scottish Government towards a system which more accurately counts the GP workforce, rather than relying on estimates.”

Scotland’s medical workforce in 2024

This publication from NHS Education for Scotland (NES) presents results from the 2023 Primary Care Out of Hours and GP Workforce Survey which has been designed to capture information from  each NHS Board area.

This survey has been developed over recent years in partnership with a range of stakeholders including: the Scottish General Practitioners’ Committee, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nursing and the Scottish Practice Nurse Association.

In November, NHS Education for Scotland said that there had been record levels of investment which will create an additional 153 trainee doctor posts next year in what will be the largest annual expansion on record.

This level of expansion represents a 2.3% increase above the current whole time equivalent workforce of 6570 trainees. The additional posts, costing £42m over the next four years, will be in 24 different specialties overall, including anaesthetics, emergency medicine, general practice, intensive care medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry and surgery.

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Funding for these additional places will help to relieve some of the pressures currently facing our health service.

“The level of expansion taking place in 2024 – the largest ever – shows the Scottish Government’s continued investment and commitment to ensure that our health service is equipped to deliver timely and effective care to those who need it. Under this government NHS staffing is at a historically high level – up by around 29,100 whole time equivalent.”

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