South Scotland MSP and Shadow Health Minister Colin Smyth has expressed his concerns that the GP crisis facing the region could get worse, following the news that NHS Dumfries and Galloway have been forced to “limit” their out-of-hours service due to a shortage of GPs.
Colin Smyth said:
"The shortage of GPs caused by the Scottish Government's previous decision to cut training places for doctors has created a staffing crisis in our NHS that is now impacting on even the most basis services such as accessing a GP out of office hours. My fear is the problem will get worse as there is no sign that we will be able to find the GPs we need in our area and we have a real ticking time bomb with so many existing GPs set to retire. That is inevitably going to lead to more restrictions and more mergers or even closures of local GP practises. I have raised the GP crisis in the Scottish Parliament on numerous occasions but the Scottish Government's actions have been too little too late."
The local MSP however criticised the local health board for the lack of information to the public over what this will mean for services. Colin Smyth added, "Whilst this crisis is not the fault of the local health board, constituents are rightly asking their local MSPs what this will mean in practical terms for the out of hours’ service because there is a lack of clarity from the NHS. Unfortunately, the health board has failed to provide any information to MSPs so we can deal with those local concerns and that is very disappointing. They need to be clearer with the public what this will mean for their GP services".