Fergusson questions Scottish government on future GP numbers

MSP Alex Fergusson
MSP Alex Fergusson

Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson has questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison MSP, on what action her Government is taking to avert a looming crisis over GP coverage in Dumfries and Galloway.

Following Question Time in Parliament today, Mr Fergusson said: “There are currently 14 GP vacancies across the Region and we know that the local Health Board is having to spend £1 million a month on locums to fill the gaps. Twenty-five per cent of our local GPs are over 55, and will be due to retire soon, and I understand that the proposed new contract put forward by the Scottish Government is doing nothing to persuade GPs to carry on working once they reach retirement age”.

“Only four out of 12 GP training places in Dumfries and Galloway were filled this year and newly qualified GPs tend to either go abroad or prefer to work in our towns and cities. All of these facts and figures point to a looming crisis in primary care across our Region”.

“It therefore beggars belief that the SNP Government has cut the proportion of the NHS budget by 2.4 per cent since it came to power – from 9.8 per cent in 2005/6 to just 7.4 per cent in 2014/15. This reduction in investment has coincided with an increase in demand, which is unsustainable in future years”.

“This Scottish Government needs to take urgent action to encourage newly qualified doctors to enter General Practice and older GPs to carry on working past retirement age. The Cabinet Secretary’s response to my questions did not give me much hope that this is likely to happen in the short term and that does not bode well for primary health care in Dumfries & Galloway”.