South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has said that an Audit Scotland Report confirms the mismanagement of our NHS by this SNP Scottish Government.

The Report by Audit Scotland, “NHS Workforce Planning – Part 2. The Clinical Workforce in General Practice,” confirms that;

• The Scottish Government has not estimated the impact of workforce pressures on primary care services.

• There is a lack of national data on currently workforce numbers, cost and demand.

• Increasing pressures will mean meeting the challenge of recruiting more GPs will become more difficult over the next ten year.

GP surgeries across Dumfries and Galloway have struggled to recruit GPs leading to longer waiting times. In some areas surgeries have had to merge, such as in Moffat, while hundreds of patients were moved from Lockerbie Medical Practice to Lochmaben Medical Practice due to the shortage of GPs. The Galloway Hills Medical Practice in Newton Stewart has had to reduce the number of patient appointments due to difficulties recruiting a new GP.

According to the Audit Scotland report Dumfries and Galloway has the third highest vacancy rate in Scotland (11.8%) for GPs with only the islands of Shetland and Western Isles higher. The report also reveals that the number of GPs in Dumfries and Galloway has fallen by 21.1% from 2013-2018- the biggest fall in the country. In a single year the number fell from 137 in 2017 to 120 in 2018- a fall of 12.4%.

Colin Smyth said, “This Report lays bare that this SNP Scottish Government has completely mismanaged our NHS over the last decade and are ill prepared to fix the recruitment crisis facing our NHS locally. Primary care is the first point of access for patients right across Dumfries and Galloway, when a patient is left waiting to see a GP it can make a health condition worse and result in an Outpatient or Accident and Emergency appointment which is more costly to our NHS. 

The GP recruitment crisis affects rural areas such as Dumfries and Galloway more acutely with many patients already experiencing changes and GP practice closures. The figures for Dumfries and Galloway are frankly frightening and show clearly that this is a real GP crisis facing our region. While I applaud efforts from the local NHS board to actively attract Doctors in training to experiencing working here while they are still studying, without a long term, comprehensive national plan to attract and retain nurses and doctors in primary care local health services will suffer.”

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