Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

BMA demands urgent action to tackle rural GP recruitment crisis

Concerns over rural GP recruitment
Concerns over rural GP recruitment

The British Medical Association (BMA) has demanded urgent action to address the rural GP recruitment crisis, warning failure to do so will have “serious implications” for care in remote areas.

Dr Andrew Buist, BMA’s Scottish GPs committee chair, has highlighted the struggle to attract doctors to the north, the expense of providing locum cover and the number of doctors reaching retirement age.

In a blog for the BMA website, Dr Buist said GP practices were only surviving at the moment because of “amazing” doctors working in the Highlands and islands.

His concerns were voiced at a time when rural doctors are worried that the new GP contract between the BMA and Scottish Government will worsen their conditions.

Dr Buist said rural doctors delivered the highest quality of care in what could be “incredibly difficult” circumstances.

He said they were grappling with providing out-of-hours cover, stretched ambulance services and operating in areas where the nearest hospital could be a couple of hours away.

His blog was written following a tour of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty which involved meetings with GPs in the area.

Practices had a “particular struggle” to get locums as well as permanent replacements and almost all the doctors he met were over 40-years-old, Dr Buist said.

This meant, Dr Buist wrote, there are “serious implications for the long-term future of primary healthcare in the area unless action is taken now.

“The practices survive at the moment because they have some amazing doctors.”

He warned there would be “a huge gap to fill” when the current group of GPs retire.

Doctors have reported high vacancy rates in rural areas where finding replacement GPs can sometimes take years.

Earlier this year, a survey of 51 members of the Rural GP Association of Scotland (RGPAS) found more than 80% felt the new contract disadvantaged its members.

Rural GPs argue that they are more likely than urban GPs to provide services such as palliative care, attend road and other accidents and treat mental health and chronic diseases.

Highlands Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: “Our GPs in remote and rural practices do a fantastic job, but this problem has been brewing for a long time.

“SNP ministers need to take urgent action to prevent matters getting even worse for our more remote communities.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said there were a record number  of GPs in Scotland, but recognised rural communities faced “distinct challenges” in recruiting and retaining doctors.

He said the GP contract would reduce workload, making a medical career more attractive and ministers had allocated £600,000 on golden hellos and relocation costs for GPs moving to rural posts.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said it was its “absolute priority” to ensure people in rural and urban areas received a good response.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal