Demand for GP services ‘has never been higher in Scotland’

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said he saw double the patients he would normally have seen in pre-pandemic times last week.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said demand for GP services is 'unsustainable' as Covid cases continue to rise. FreshSplash via IStock
Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said demand for GP services is 'unsustainable' as Covid cases continue to rise.

The demand for GP services is “unsustainable” as Covid cases continue to rise across Scotland, claims one NHS doctor.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, shadow cabinet secretary for health, said he saw double the amount of patients he would normally have seen in pre-pandemic times last week.

Speaking on The Sunday Show, the Glasgow MSP said: “The demand for GPs has never been higher.

“On Monday, I had 80 patient contacts in general practice. That’s not safe, that’s not sustainable, but it’s the level of demand we’re facing.”

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He added: “Pre-Covid you would have about 20 patients in the morning, and you’d have about 15 to 20 in the afternoon.

“And that’s sort of the levels that we would want to be working to, so it’s almost doubled the demand, and the telephones are ringing off the hook.”

Dr Gulhane said patients need to be flowing through NHS services again to help with the current demand.

“We need operations to start again, we need patients being seen in clinics,” he said.

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“We’re struggling to treat them (patients) and all the new patients that are coming to us, so we need to get that flow going.”

Dr Gulhane said one of the main problems behind the backlog of patients was the lack of anaesthetists in hospitals.

He said the Scottish Government needs to make more of an effort to come up with a “strategic recruitment plan” to hire more anaesthetists to assist with appointments in clinics and hospitals.

On Friday senior surgeon Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said the majority of the issues in Scotland’s hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service are not due to Covid.

Prof Griffin warned Scotland has “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care” that needs to be addressed and it is causing a “vicious circle” impacting all parts of the health service.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that increasing numbers of Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals are adding to the “very, very complex problem” facing the health service – including under-pressure paramedics.

It comes after the Scottish Government officially requested help from the army to support the ambulance service amid deteriorating response times.

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The comments appear to contradict Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that the crisis in the ambulance service is “largely caused by the Covid pressure” and it is “the latest in a number of significant challenges posed to us as a result of this pandemic”.


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