GPs ‘at breaking point’ as workloads rise, survey finds

The BMA said there was a shortage of GPs and the need for physical distancing had made consultations more difficult.

GPs ‘at breaking point’ as workloads rise, survey finds ADAM GAULT/SPL via Getty Images
'Breaking point': Scotland's GPs.

Scotland’s GPs are “at breaking point” as most face rising workloads during the pandemic, according to a survey.

The BMA survey of 669 GPs also found 88% said they or their staff had been subjected to verbal or physical abusive behaviour from the public in the last month.

Almost two-thirds (65.9%) said the abuse had grown worse since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some 82% said they lacked confidence that plans for NHS recovery would support GPs and 66% said they were considering cutting the number of sessions they work.

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Dr Andrew Buist, chairman 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: we are still involved with the vaccination programme rollout and staffing Covid assessment centres as well as trying to ensure those patients in our communities with greatest need get the care they require.

“Let’s be clear and absolutely put to bed the damaging myth that GP practices have been closed during the pandemic.

“Yes, we’ve had to clinically assess people differently – but all the evidence suggests that means we are working harder than ever.”

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He said there was a shortage of GPs and the need for physical distancing had made consultations more difficult.

Dr Buist continued: “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.

“GPs can only work within the limitations we face right now, and we need the Scottish Government, and indeed all politicians, to be clear and realistic in their messaging about just what is possible for GPs at the moment.”