Not a single doctor has signed-up to a government scheme to attract GPs to Grampian – despite the offer of a £20,000 bonus.
Health Secretary Shona Robison had proposed to give new family doctors the lump sum “golden hello” if they chose to work for the north-east health board.
But amid growing concern about a GP recruitment crisis across the NHS Grampian area, it has emerged not a single doctor has taken up the offer, despite there being three places available.
Two vacancies available under the scheme have been filled in the Highlands.
Scottish Labour MSP David Stewart said he was now “extremely worried” about the future of general practice care in the north of Scotland.
Ms Robison insisted the number of GPs working in NHS Grampian had increased by almost 10% during the last nine years.
But Mr Stewart said: “I previously announced my disappointment at the small number of these special bursary places in the region and to now discover that more than half the posts (across Grampian and Highland) haven’t been filled is extremely worrying for the future of the health service.
“Nine out of ten nurses are saying their workload is getting worse, one out of four GP surgeries say they are understaffed and only a third of NHS staff believe there are enough of them to do their jobs properly.
“There really has to be action now to save our NHS for the future.”
The north-east has experienced well-documented difficulties in recruiting family doctors, with patients struggling to get appointments.
The Press and Journal also revealed that Aberdeen University was being forced to turn down would-be medical students because of the cap on places in order to maintain free tuition.
Ms Robison said: “The numbers of GPs working in NHS Grampian have increased by almost 10% during the life time of this government, and we are committed to increasing GP numbers as we transform our local health services to better meet the needs of communities across Scotland, including assisting more GPs to return to practice.
“A joint agreement between the Scottish Government and the BMA, on the future of GP services, will also improve and redesign the way health services are provided in communities across Scotland.”
The health secretary said there was a 19% increase in new GPs taking up training posts in Scotland this year compared to 2015.
She added: “The three vacant trainee posts in Grampian are currently being advertised, with a start date of August 2017.”