GP post empty for two years amid recruitment crisis, Lib Dems claim
Positions at surgeries under direct health board control have lain empty for months in some cases.
A GP post in Scotland has lain vacant for two years, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have found.
Health boards told the party of GP positions which had been advertised eight times without success.
Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said the figures indicate a “crisis” in general practice in Scotland.
The statistics relating to vacancies at GP practices run directly by health boards were uncovered through Freedom of Information requests.
These found a post vacant for two years in Forth Valley, one unfilled in Dumfries and Galloway for 22 months and one empty since July 2016 in the Highlands.
A vacant post in Grampian was advertised three times without attracting an application while empty positions in Shetland were advertised eight times, each receiving a single application.
Several health boards – including Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian, Borders and the Western Isles – said they held no information on GPs as they are independent contracts and as such manage their own vacancies, as is the case for the vast majority of GPs across Scotland.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Staff at GP surgeries do amazing work but it is clear that many are at their wits end.
“This new research is an insight into the difficulties facing GPs in every corner of the country.
“Posts have lain empty for two years. Others have been advertised again and again without success.”
He said projections indicated a shortage of GPs by 850 by 2021, not factoring in the Brexit impact.
“We are seeing GPs retiring, failed recruitment schemes, practices closing and others restricting access,” he added.
“SNP ministers can’t continue to deny that there is a crisis. Attracting new staff is going to be hard until the pressure on GP services is alleviated.”