GPs in Scotland struggle to cope under pandemic pressure

NINE out of 10 GPs in Scotland have reported that they or their staff have been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in the past month, and almost two-thirds report that the situation has grown worse since the beginning of the pandemic.

A survey of 669 GPs across Scotland by the BMA also found that almost three-quarters (73.3 per cent) were struggling to cope, with their work having a negative impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Around 70 per cent have said they are now more likely to take early retirement or leave the profession altogether.

Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, said: "The results of this survey make for extremely difficult – and disappointing – reading. GPs in Scotland are at breaking point with ever-increasing workloads.

"The current situation is causing frustration among members of the public, which is understandable to a point as they see Covid cases at low levels in many areas of the country and expect access to GP to return to exactly as it was before. However, no matter how challenging this is for us all, it is utterly unacceptable that GPs and their practice staff are being subjected to verbal or physical abuse – this, coupled with unmanageable workloads and a poor work/life balance will of course have a real impact on GPs and their staff’s mental and physical wellbeing. We are only human after all. And it will therefore have a negative impact on the numbers of GPs remaining in or joining the profession across Scotland unless it is addressed with real urgency.

"We urgently need reassurance from the Scottish Government that general practice will be adequately supported as we recover from this pandemic: we need their support to ensure that public messaging around the work of general practice is consistent and honest.

"Looking longer term; Scotland was promised 800 additional GPs by 2027, we need the new health secretary’s re-commitment to that as quickly as possible, along with a clear understanding of what workforce we have now and how plans to increase the number of GPs will be achieved as part of a comprehensive workforce plan."