MSP warns of dras­tic GP prac­tice short­age

James Kelly claims one prac­tice is lost ev­ery month

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

The num­ber of pa­tients per GP prac­tice in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang has risen ev­ery year for the past decade.

Fig­ures re­leased this week by James Kelly MSP show the num­ber of prac­tices in his Ruther­glen con­stituency has re­mained the same de­spite the num­ber of pa­tients go­ing up.

In 2015, there are 16 prac­tices serv­ing a pop­u­la­tion of 76,248 - a to­tal of 4766 (per prac­tice).

This is an in­crease from 4478 in 2006, a to­tal rise of 6.4 per cent.

Mr Kelly this week ac­cused the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment of cut­ting fund­ing for med­i­cal stu­dents go­ing into gen­eral prac­tice and said GP prac­tices were clos­ing in Scot­land at a rate of one ev­ery two months.

The Labour politi­cian has now called on the health sec­re­tary, Shona Ro­bi­son MSP, to do more to stop what he de­scribes as a “GP cri­sis” in the two towns with some peo­ple re­port­ing waits of three weeks to see a doc­tor.

He added: “One of the most com­mon com­plaints at my surg­eries are from con­stituents about the length of time it takes for them to get an ap­point­ment with their GP.

“Some re­port wait­ing over three weeks, just for a quick check-up.

“Lo­cal GPs pro­vide front-line care, and deal with all sorts of cases, in­clud­ing be­ing peo­ple’s first point- of- call for men­tal health. It’s a vi­tal ser­vice which the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in Ed­in­burgh should be pro­tect­ing.

“These fig­ures ex­plain why our lo­cal ser­vices are un­der so much strain.

“Scot­tish Labour ear­lier this year ex­posed that there will be a huge num­ber of GPs re­tir­ing in the next decade.

“You would there­fore think that in­vest­ing in the next gen­er­a­tion of fam­ily doc­tors would be a pri­or­ity for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

“Un­for­tu­nately, they’ve cut fund­ing for med­i­cal stu­dents.

“It’s time the SNP woke up and ad­dressed the loom­ing cri­sis of GP pro­vi­sion and this is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for ar­eas like Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang, with new de­vel­op­ments bring­ing fam­i­lies to the area, as well as with a grow­ing older pop­u­la­tion.

“It takes seven years to train a GP – the SNP gov­ern­ment needs to wake up and act now.”

How­ever, health sec­re­tary Ms Ro­bi­son told the Re­former yesterday the SNP Gov­ern­ment had taken “sub­stan­tial steps to­wards a new fu­ture for gen­eral prac­tice both across Scot­land and in lo­cal ar­eas like Ruther­glen.”

She added: “The num­ber of GPs in Scot­land has risen to a record high un­der this gov­ern­ment, Scot­land con­tin­ues to have the most GPs per head of pop­u­la­tion in the UK, and spend­ing on pri­mary care per head has risen since this gov­ern­ment came to of­fice.

“But we know more must be done – both short and long term to meet the chal­lenges the pro­fes­sion faces.

“That is why we have in­vested an ad­di­tional £60mil­lion in pri­mary care over the next three years.

“This fund­ing was care­fully al­lo­cated af­ter close work with the BMA and RCGP – who wel­comed the fo­cus of the ex­tra in­vest­ment. A key part of this will be in­vest­ment around re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion and en­sur­ing be­com­ing a GP is an at­trac­tive ca­reer op­tion.”

Cri­sis James Kelly MSP reck­ons fa­cil­i­ties such as Ruther­glen Pri­mary Care Cen­tre are fac­ing a GP cri­sis

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