New figures showing more than one in 10 GP surgeries in the north-east have closed their doors in the past decade have been branded “stark” by the Scottish parliament’s health convener.
The data from north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald shows the number of surgeries in the NHS Grampian area has declined from 84 in 2008 to 73 in 2018 – a 13% drop. Across Scotland the figure is 8%.
Health chiefs are currently recruiting 13 GP positions, including maternity cover, across the region. But, most recently, the Rosemount Medical Group in Aberdeen closed after its two doctors retired, meaning more than 4,000 patients had to be found new places.
In August, bosses at the Aberdeen Health and Social Partnership drafted a new three-year action plan which included using more technology and collaboration with other services to reduce the burden on overburdened GPs.
Two months later, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for sport and health, Jeane Freeman, outlined recruitment measures with the aim of increasing the number of GPs working in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.
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Mr Macdonald, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee, urged residents to take part in the “what does primary care look like for the next generation?” inquiry on the Scottish Parliament website.
He said: “While this is a national issue, the decline in the number of practices in Grampian, the Highlands and islands has been particularly stark.
“The committee is now undertaking a major inquiry where we are asking people what they think the next 30 years should be and have had more than 1,000 responses from the public so far.”
Independent Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald argued that the perception of a GP’s life had to be improved.
He added: “The first approach has to be to put the funding in place for training, but there is also an issue that being a GP has to be sold as an attractive proposition for those training to be doctors.
“This isn’t a problem that has crept up on us, there has long been an issue around the age profile of GPs.
“The role used to be more male and full time and is now more female and part time, which I am not saying is a bad thing, but we need to ensure there is continuity.”