Half of Lothian GPs claim workloads unmanageable

Willie Rennie meets GP Dr Lynn Wilson at the Blue practice in Stockbridge. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Willie Rennie meets GP Dr Lynn Wilson at the Blue practice in Stockbridge. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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HIGH workloads are crippling Lothian family doctors, according to a “damning” new report into the state of general practice.

A national survey, compiled by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, revealed that more than 50 per cent of Lothian GPs found their workload unmanageable compared with 38 per cent nationally.

Thirty-seven out of 125 Lothian GP practices were analysed as part of the report, titled The crisis in Scottish Primary Healthcare.

The news comes as NHS Lothian was forced to take over the running of Leith Links Medical Centre, due to a lack of doctors.

It is the fourth GP practice within Lothian to come under health board control.

Mr Rennie said: “The results are damning. The finding that more than three in ten GPs would not opt for general practice if they were making a career choice now reveals the depth of the crisis.”

Almost half of the respondents nationally were unaware of the Scottish Government’s primary care plan to tackle the strain on GPs.

He said: “It is to be regretted that the Scottish Government was unaware of the looming crisis in primary care and the government appears to continue to deny that the crisis even exists. The impact of this crisis is being felt far and wide and the problems that have been allowed to develop are deep-rooted.”

Mr Rennie said the government had published an “under-whelming plan” in June – seven months after it announced it would – and that GPs felt that it was “insufficient to meet the challenges.” 
Medical leaders called for wider investment in general practice, which could save NHS Scotland money in the long term through better use of resources.

Dr Miles Mack, chair of Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, said: “These survey results are certainly worrying. We are repeatedly getting stories of increasing workloads and difficulty recruiting GP partners and salaried doctors from across Scotland.”

The organisation is working with doctors who have other specialities to develop new ways of working to make the health service run efficiently.

Health Secretary Shona Robison has admitted that more needed to be done to tackle the looming GP crisis, despite a £60 million cash boost from the Scottish Government earlier this year.

She said: “We will go on working with family doctors to meet the undoubted challenges the profession faces over workload and recruitment.”