GP re­cruit­ment ‘near im­pos­si­ble’ in places

● Plan­ning fail­ure claims re­jected ● GP short­fall to hit 856 by 2021

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By SCOTT MAC­NAB

The head of NHS Scot­land has told MSPS it is “close to im­pos­si­ble” to re­cruit new GPS in some parts of the coun­try.

But Paul Gray, chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Scot­land, re­jected claims of a “fail­ure” in work­force plan­ning in the health ser­vice.

The Royal Col­lege of GPS in Scot­land has pre­dicted a short­fall of 856 GPS in Scot­land by 2021 and a re­cent Au­dit Scot­land re­port raised con­cerns over a lack of staff.

Mr Gray was ap­pear­ing be­fore MSPS on Holy­rood’s Publi­cau­dit­com­mit­tee­where Tory MSP Liam Kerr said that in his North East con­stituency there were “sig­nif­i­cant work­force chal­lenges” in the NHS.

“I can­not help but con­clude that we’re sit­ting with a de­pleted work­force be­cause no­body has ap­par­ently planned for it in the past,” Mr Kerr said.

Mr Gray said he was “not com­pla­cent” about the is­sues. “In some ar­eas in gen­eral prac­tice it’s very dif­fi­cult to re­cruit - close to im­pos­si­ble.

“I ac­cept that as a fact, I’m not pre­tend­ing it doesn’t ex­ist.”

High­land re­gion also has par­tic­u­lar prob­lems with ra­di­ol­ogy staffing, he added.

Mr Gray was told that the heads of Scot­land’s re­gional NHS boards claimed last week there had been a col­lec­tive fail­ure across the health ser­vice to plan for the fu­ture. But Mr Gray said: “No­body has failed to plan.”

“We are where we are be­cause of changes in con­text, changes in de­mand, changes in the way that we do things.

“We’ve reached the con­clu­sion, I think rightly, min­is­ters have reached the con­clu­sion that a na­tional work­force plan was now nec­es­sary. That is what we are pro­duc­ing. If ev­ery time we pro­duce some­thing new, we de­scribe the past as a fail­ure, it’s go­ing to make it very hard to pro­duce any­thing new.”

Pa­tient sat­is­fac­tion with the NHS is at 90 per cent, the civil ser­vant added.

“That is ev­i­dence of suc­cess, that is not ev­i­dence of fail­ure,” he said.

“We have 156,000 staff in the health ser­vice, we have them or­gan­ised to de­liver and we didn’t get that from nowhere.”

Chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Dr Cather­ine Calder­wood said part of plan­ning was look­ing at whether a doc­tor was al­ways the most ap­pro­pri­ate per­son to treat a pa­tient.

She added: “While I would ab­so­lutely agree they are there and re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion is very dif­fi­cult, what we are do­ing is re­spond­ing to chang­ing needs, look­ing at ev­i­dence of what is pro­vid­ing the best out­comes for peo­ple.

“It’s not just about re­cruit­ing more GPS, it’s about look­ing at that staff mix, it’s about look­ing at what the right type of pro­fes­sional is for that prob­lem and do­ing it in a more sys­tem­atic way.”

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