Responding to an MPs concerns about GP staffing in Angus, the Scottish government has conceded that patients will not always have access to a family doctor, according to The Courier
A government spokesperson responded to recent claims made by Angus MP Kirstene Hair – who said that Angus Medical Centre is at crisis point due to a lack of GPs – by admitting that patients may not see a GP ‘in every case’ when they make an appointment.
Concerns about recruitment and retention abound in Scotland, where GP numbers have steadily decreased.
The Academy Medical Centre in Forfar, for example, was once part of a serious proposal to create a ‘super surgery’ in the town – but the concept had to be abandoned in 2016.
Responding to concerns from constituents, Hair has written to Jeane Freeman, Scotland’s health secretary,, to highlight the ‘labyrinthine’ process involved in getting an appointment with a GP.
Hair said: “Patients at a number of Angus GP surgeries and health centres are getting involved in a labyrinthine process just to get an appointment with a doctor.
“Beyond the obvious inconvenience, there are issues about privacy and the dangers of self-diagnosis.
“Constituents have asked me to look into the matter with regards to Forfar, but this is in no way limited to the academy.
“I know staff are working their hardest to cover a lot of patients.
“Earlier this month, the new chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in Scotland warned the Scottish Government has taken GPs for granted and that’s why they aren’t being recruited.
“I’d like to know what Jeane Freeman has planned for GP provision in Angus and the rest of Scotland.
“The GP shortage should not have come as a surprise – her party has been in charge of the NHS in Scotland for the past 11 years.”
However, a spokesperson for the Scottish government hit back: “Overall health service staffing and investment is at all-time record high levels, and by the end of this Parliament we will have invested an additional £500m per year in Primary Care – £250m of which will be in direct support of general practice.
“We have successfully negotiated a new GP contract to stabilise income, reduce workload, and improve patient care.
“The new contract and wider primary care reform is backed by investment of £110 million this year and we aim to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over 10 years to ensure a sustainable service that meets increasing demand.
“That goes hand in hand with building a multi-disciplinary team so that patients can see the right person, at the right time, for the care they need in the community setting.
“That will not in every case be a GP, although GPs will always be available if a patient needs to see one.
“With Brexit only months away, we’re doing all we can to plan and mitigate against as many of the significant uncertainties that exist for our health service.
“This includes in relation to recruitment due to potential restrictions of freedom of movement of health care staff and mutual recognition of which will have an adverse impact out NHS.”