Covid Scotland: Demand for GP services 'unsustainable' as cases rise, says NHS doctor

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The demand for GP services is “unsustainable” as Covid cases continue to rise across Scotland, claims one NHS doctor.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, shadow Cabinet secretary for health, said he saw double the amount of patients he would normally have seen in pre-pandemic times last week.

Speaking on BBC’s The Sunday Show, the Glasgow MSP said: “The demand for GPs has never been higher.

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“On Monday, I had 80 patient contacts in general practice. That’s not safe, that’s not sustainable, but it’s the level of demand we’re facing.”

The pressure on GPs is 'unsustainable', a Scottish NHS doctor has warned. Picture: PAThe pressure on GPs is 'unsustainable', a Scottish NHS doctor has warned. Picture: PA
The pressure on GPs is 'unsustainable', a Scottish NHS doctor has warned. Picture: PA

He added: “Pre-Covid you would have about 20 patients in the morning, and you’d have about 15 to 20 in the afternoon.

“And that’s sort of the levels that we would want to be working to, so it’s almost doubled the demand, and the telephones are ringing off the hook.”

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Dr Gulhane said patients needed to be flowing through NHS services again to help with the current demand.

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“We need operations to start again, we need patients being seen in clinics,” he said.

“We’re struggling to treat them [patients] and all the new patients that are coming to us, so we need to get that flow going.”

Dr Gulhane said one of the main problems behind the backlog of patients was the lack of anaesthetists in hospitals.

He said the Scottish Government needed to make more of an effort to come up with a “strategic recruitment plan” to hire more anaesthetists to assist with appointments in clinics and hospitals.

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On Friday senior surgeon Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said the majority of the issues in Scotland’s hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service were not due to Covid.

Prof Griffin warned Scotland had “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care” that needs to be addressed and it was causing a “vicious circle” impacting all parts of the health service.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that increasing numbers of Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals are adding to the “very, very complex problem” facing the health service, including under-pressure paramedics.

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