Women help GP numbers rise in Scotland to more than 5000

Figures published by ISD Scotland show the number has increased by 55 on last year.

Doctor: The number of GPs working in Scotland has risen. Pixabay
Doctor: The number of GPs working in Scotland has risen.

The number of GPs working in Scotland has risen, according to official statistics.

Figures published by ISD Scotland show the number has increased by 55 on last year to a total headcount of 5049.

Women accounted predominantly for the rise in GP numbers, making up 61% (3079) of the total number of GPs in Scotland.

There has been little change in the number of male GPs since last year, who make up 39% of the total.

Just under a third (32%) of GPs are aged 50 and over – down from a high of 34% in 2014.

The Scottish Government has previously outlined its pledge to increase the number of GPs, with the headcount having remained roughly constant at around 4900 between 2009 and 2017.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government would be investing £250m in direct support of general practice.

“Today’s figures show a record high number of GPs employed in Scotland and we are looking to grow the workforce further to account for changing working practices and increased demand on primary care services,” she said.

“There are more GPs per head in Scotland than the rest of the UK and this year we’ve seen the highest number of GP speciality training posts filled since 2015.

“By the end of this parliament we’ll be investing an additional £500m per year into primary care, including £250m in direct support of general practice.”

Ms Freeman added: “We are also making 105 more places available by 2022 for new graduates on the Foundation Training Programme.

“The first 51 training posts will be available in 2021 for students to continue their training to become qualified doctors and we are prioritising structural reforms in postgraduate support of general practice by 2021.

“The number of doctors in training has increased by more than 6% under this government and we are also increasing medical schools places by 22% by 2020-21 – equivalent to an extra 190 places.

“We are committed to increasing the number of GPs in Scotland and these figures show that our ambitions are well on track.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said the NHS was facing a “workforce crisis”.

“GPs are the front line of our NHS but primary care is still not getting the investment it needs,” she said.

“With demand for GP services growing, Scotland is facing a shortage of over 850 GPs by 2021 – and current plans from SNP ministers will do little to plug the gap.

“Our NHS is facing a workforce crisis and Scottish Labour will provide the additional resources to support increased capacity within general practice to ensure patients get the care to they need and deserve and that GPs are properly supported.”