RCGP Scotland has expressed concern over new figures which show that the number of whole time equivalent (WTE) GPs in Scotland has fallen by 160 since 2013.
The Primary Care Workforce Survey, published earlier this week by the Information Services Division of NHS Scotland (ISD) found that the number of GPs in the region working at least 40 hours per week has fallen from 3,735 in 2013 to 3,575 in 2017. The figure represents a decrease of more than 4 per cent.
The survey also found an increase in the number of practices with GP vacancies. Nearly a quarter of practices who responded to the survey reported current GP vacancies, a substantial increase on the 2013 figure of 9 per cent.
Reacting to the findings, Dr Carey Lunan, Chair of RCGP Scotland, said: "The findings from this survey are very concerning. In the interests of patient care and a sustainable NHS, we must do more to tackle the GP shortage and ensure that we increase the number of WTE GPs across the country as quickly as possible.
“In December, RCGP Scotland welcomed the Government's commitment to deliver 800 extra GPs in Scotland over the next decade. Although it is encouraging to see recognition of the workforce problems being faced by our profession, this commitment still falls short of the 856 WTE GPs that RCGP have previously calculated will be required within a much shorter time frame - by 2021,” Dr Lunan said. “We hope that today's findings will lead to a commitment from the Scottish Government that the 800 extra GPs they have promised to deliver will at least represent WTE positions.”