GP surgeries in rural Scotland are facing more challenges than most, as one young doctor has discovered on settling in the area
A 30-year-old GP, Anna Roberts, has told the BBC about how she ended up working at a rural surgery and the challenges similar practices are facing.
Roberts moved to Dumfries seven years ago and is now a GP at the Charlotte Medical Centre.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway is facing particular problems when it comes to maintaining GP numbers, as many retirements have occurred in recent years with not enough doctors to replace them.
The total GP headcount has still fallen by more than five per cent in the space of less than two years.
Initiatives are in place to tackle the situation, but Roberts is now seeing the difficulties from the inside.
“A lot of people just don’t really know very much about Dumfries and Galloway or the fact that it exists,” she said.
“I think it is very easy to get into that central belt mentality – and I was definitely guilty of that as well.
“It is really difficult because if a practice is struggling that does not make an attractive place for someone to go,” she said.
Her own practice lost three partners in a year and struggled to get back up to full capacity.
“If one person joins it makes it more attractive for another person to join – a lot of GPs will worry about being the last man standing,” she said.
“Where there are lots of retiring GPs that will make it a very difficult thing to recruit unless you get a few people that go in together and say: ‘Actually, we are going to change this and we are going to be the young GPs there.'”
Roberts believes that attracting trainees to these areas could make an enormous difference.
“When you are in a big city you often feel that you are a number on a rota whereas here you are valued,” she said.
“I think if we can get people as trainees here then they are more likely to stay. Training practices struggle less.”