Home Top Global NewsHealthcare NHS winter crisis: Scots GPs switching to ’emergency only’ care as crisis deepens

NHS winter crisis: Scots GPs switching to ’emergency only’ care as crisis deepens

by Ozva Admin

GPs are being forced to text patients warning they can only take emergency appointments as the pressure mounts, a doctors union has revealed.

Scotland’s Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned that GPs are under “sustained pressure on multiple fronts” ahead of a “very challenging winter” for Scotland’s NHS.

The Scottish government’s failure to retain and recruit GPs has prompted doctors to implement “unseen-before” emergency measures on surgeries, said the university’s joint president, Dr Chris Williams.

The admission comes less than a fortnight after the worst accident and emergency (A&E) wait time figures were released. More than 9,600 patients waited more than four hours in an emergency department in Scotland in the last week of October.

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf is under pressure over GP shortages and A&E waiting times. Image: Pennsylvania

Dr Williams has called on the Government to give “simultaneous and determined attention” to the “profound issues of workload, workforce and well-being within general practice”.

“With the ongoing effects of the pandemic, a potential flu resurgence and the cost of living crisis, GPs are bracing for a very challenging winter, with serious concerns about the impact on patient care,” he said.

“Contrary to some reports, the general practice has been open during the pandemic. While RCGP Scotland agrees that there should be an appropriate mix of appointment types and booking methods available to patients, the practices’ ability to provide this is limited by the capacity of the GP.

“We simply don’t have enough GPs and demand has reached sky-high levels. GPs and their teams are implementing emergency measures, never seen before, to maintain their practices.”

The RCGP further warned that some of its members are postponing chronic disease management and prioritizing emergency work, and some members are communicating with patients via text messages, advising them that their surgeries will only give emergency appointments for the time being. .

Dr Williams said: “When combined with disappointing Scottish government withdrawals and repeated messages that patients are frustrated, Scotland’s GP workforce has been downsized and demoralized. Recruitment issues and retention are inherently intertwined and require determined and simultaneous attention from the Scottish Government if we are to change course.

“Short-term solutions for the healthcare system need to be combined with the Scottish Government’s long-term strategic planning to address the deep-rooted issues of workload, workforce and well-being within general practice.”

Dr Andrew Buist, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) Scottish GPs committee, said some doctors were “facing abuse from frustrated patients”. He called for recent government funding cuts of up to £70m to be reversed.

The BMA has said there are an estimated 312 full-time equivalent vacancies in GP practices in Scotland.

“We have been saying for some time that further investment in recruiting more GPs, and a clear focus on keeping the ones we already have, is essential to address the current pressures seen in practices across Scotland,” said Dr. Buist. “The results of our recent practice survey reiterate our earlier warnings about the increasing demands facing GPs and their teams.

“Demand is still significantly outpacing capacity, with more than a third of practices responding to the survey reporting they had at least one GP opening, up from just over a quarter at this time last year. The situation has only continued to deteriorate with GPs being blamed and in some cases facing abuse from frustrated patients.

“Despite promises from the Scottish government to support GPs and recruit more doctors, general practice has been further disappointed by funding cuts that threaten to undermine the practices, at a time when they should receive support to offer patients the best possible care in the run-up. to winter

“We really are at a tipping point for general practice in Scotland, and GPs urgently need more government support, including clear public messaging to manage expectations of what GPs can deliver under current pressures and to reverse the recent funding cuts”.

The Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, demanded the dismissal of health secretary Humza Yousaf, saying: “The regrettable workforce planning of successive SNP health secretaries has led to a crisis of family doctors. Even long before the pandemic they failed to recruit enough GPs to meet patient demand and that has now come to a head across Scotland.

“Humza Yousaf’s failures mean he can’t even retain the current GPs we have, let alone recruit new ones.”

Scottish Labor health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “The health secretary must heed this stark warning and reconsider his reckless plans to raid primary care budgets. This recruitment crisis has been years in the making, but the SNP has ignored warning after warning.

“Now GPs are stretched thin, patients can’t get the help they need and our entire NHS will pay the price.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We have already delivered a record number of GPs working in Scotland, with more per capita than any other UK country. To support GPs, we have recruited more than 3,220 healthcare professionals into multidisciplinary teams that work alongside GPs.

“We are committed to investing £170m a year to help grow these teams and further increase the number of GPs in Scotland. The Scottish government is also offering a £20,000 scholarship incentive to GPs to increase rural and other hard-to-fill vacancies, saying last year’s recruitment of trainees was the most successful year in the last five, with 98 per cent of GP training positions filled. ”

You may also like

Leave a Comment