A SCHEME to recruit 100 extra GPs by offering them a £20,000 incentive has flopped after only a third of that number received the payout.
The UK and Scottish governments offered the bursary in a bid to address the shortage of family doctors.
Despite the generous bonus – paid on top of the basic salary of up to £84,000 – only 73 doctors applied, of whom just 37 were suitable.
Earlier this year, the number of Scottish training places for GPs increased to 339 of which only 249 places were filled.
Announcing the £20,000 incentive in August, Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said that the extra training places would “help build the primary care workforce of the future”.
Reacting to the disappointing performance of the incentive scheme, doctors’ leaders said reports of GPs being overworked is putting budding doctors off the profession.
The chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, Dr Alan McDevitt, said: “It is about the role GPs have, the expectations put on them and the amount of work they do in a day.”
Dr McDevitt said the recruitment of 37 new GPs was a “step in the right direction” but warned that “The fact there are not 100 suggests we have got a lot more work to do.”
According to Dr Miles Mack, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland, “more must be done urgently to make general practice a more attractive career choice.”
Although Dr Mack welcomed the 37 extra GPs, he commented: “Scotland should be working with everyone, from those undertaking their Higher exams to those completing (medical) foundation training, to make sure general practice is seen to be the fulfilling, rewarding and valued career it is with a future enshrined in adequate Scottish Government funding plans.”
But Shona Robison claimed that there had been a 15% increase in GP recruitment compared with 2015, with 276 new trainees. 90 per cent of posts requiring doctors that are in more advanced training stages are already filled.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, recently announced that a further £500 million will be invested in community care, including health centre staff, before the next election.
Medical director for the training body NHS Education for Scotland, Professor Stewart Irvine said: “In this recruitment round we have highlighted the benefits of living and working as a GP in Scotland, including the excellent training and lifestyle that is on offer. Our supportive and flexible approach offers trainees exceptional scope for personal development and trainee surveys rank Scotland GP training highly.”