New plan of action could relieve Aberdeen’s GP ‘crisis’

A comprehensive plan has been put together to help solve Aberdeen’s GP ‘crisis’, according to The Press and Journal

The Press and Journal reports that health bosses in Aberdeen are putting together a plan to help tackle the shortage of GPs – something that is being described as a ‘crisis’.

The news recently emerged that Aberdeen’s Rosemount Medical Group will close at the beginning of next year – the latest closure of many in the area – leaving 4,500 patients displaced.

However, a plan of action has been put together which aims to help relieve the burden this creates. It has been submitted by the Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership and will soon be reviewed by the body’s Integrated Joint Board.

It outlines plans to outsource vaccinations and blood tests to other medics, as well as the continuation of the Pharmacy First service, which allows patients to access treatment for simple UTIs and impetigo from a local pharmacy. According to the plan, chemists will be expected to take on other simple patient requests and diagnoses.

A nurse-led community facility could also be put in place.

A second report that will also be submitted to the board outlines how technology could help to positively impact healthcare in Aberdeen; for example, monitoring apps for diabetic patients and video conferencing between medics.

£2.4m has now been put aside for whatever improvement plan gets approved – a figure that will rise to £5.8m by 2020/21.

The initial Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership report states:

‘The ability to recruit GPs is an ongoing challenge – the numbers entering and remaining in the profession are lower than required and an increasing number of GPs are choosing not to enter partnership for a variety of reasons.’

Aberdeenshire West conservative MSP, Alexander Burnett, added:

“We would welcome any effort to reduce the workload of GPs and free up more time to spend with patients. Making general practice more attractive is key to recruiting and, importantly, retaining family doctors.

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“It is clear from the recent withdrawal from practices in Rosemount and Torry that we have a GP crisis. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP ignored warnings from the profession about the ageing workforce for years.”

In response to this, a Scottish Government spokesman said:

“We know there are challenges in some areas with recruiting and retaining GPs, which is why we are reforming primary care and have negotiated a new GP contract to attract and retain more GPs by stabilising income, reducing workload and focusing the GP role as the clinical leader in the community.

“This is backed by £110m investment this year and ensures GPs can spend more time with patients, improving patient care. Scotland remains the only part of the UK to remove the outdated QOF payment system, reducing the bureaucratic burden on GPs.

“We have also increased NHS Grampian’s budget by 2.1% to £921m this year, the highest percentage increase for any health board in Scotland, and there are now in excess of 800 more staff than in 2007.

“By the end of this parliament we will invest an additional £500m per year in primary care across the country, and we aim to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over ten years.”

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