Nicola Sturgeon was accused of complacency over a primary healthcare service in “crisis” with GPs retiring early or going part-time.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie highlighted cases across Scotland including the Great Western Medical Practice in Aberdeen which has cut 200 appointment a week until September due to staff shortages.
“How has the government allowed this to happen and what is it going to do to address the looming crisis?” he said.
The first minister rejected his assertion stating it was not a fair characterisation of either the Scottish Government or the services provided across the country.
Mr Rennie was among opposition leaders who laid into Ms Sturgeon over the state of the NHS during first minister’s questions.
He said: “Twelve medical practices in Fife are short of GPs. A practice in Aberdeen has slashed the number of appointments. Elderly patients in Edinburgh have been told to go elsewhere because their medical centre can’t cope.
“There are shortages reported in Forth Valley, Dumfries and Galloway, Lothian, Fife, Grampian, the Highlands and many other areas as well.
“The first minister needs to recognise that this is a crisis, because that is exactly what it is.”
The first minister said primary care was one of the keys to making sure the NHS is equipped for the challenges of the future.
The Scottish Government will be holding discussions over the summer recess about reconfiguring the health service to meet the emerging demographic challenges and changing demand, she said.
Meanwhile, NHS boards have taken over the running of medical practices facing shortages, including Brimmond in NHS Grampian and Bannockburn in Forth Valley, and NHS Lothian can do the same if required in Leith, Ms Sturgeon added.
“In terms of the action that this government is taking, it may or may not come as a surprise to Willie Rennie to know that we have invested £10 million in general practice this year,” she said.
“We’re also working jointly with GPs to redesign the GP contract for implementation from 2017, which is focusing specifically on addressing workforce pressures and supporting and sustaining general practice for the future.”