GP Practices Decrease in Scotland as Closures to New Patients Rise

The number of GP practices in Scotland has decreased by 10%, with hundreds of thousands struggling to access care. The Scottish government faces calls to expand healthcare services and specialists to address the crisis.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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GP Practices Decrease in Scotland as Closures to New Patients Rise

GP Practices Decrease in Scotland as Closures to New Patients Rise

The number of GP practices in Scotland has decreased in 12 out of 14 health boards in 2024, according to new figures from the Scottish Liberal Democrats. The party's analysis shows that 79 practices, nearly 10% of the total, have formally closed their lists to new patients, a significant increase from just 19 in 2018.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton criticized the Scottish Government over the closure of GP practices, stating, "Hundreds of thousands of Scots are finding it near-impossible to see their GP and waiting months for hospital treatment." The party has put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling on the government to rewrite the NHS Recovery Plan and expand the range of services and specialists available, including in fields such as mental health and physiotherapy.

The number of patients per GP has also increased in 13 out of 14 health boards over the same period. Lanarkshire now sees each GP responsible for 2,201 patients, while Fife has 1,816 patients per GP and Grampian has 1,803. The Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that as many as one in five Scots say their mental health has been impacted by long GP and hospital wait times.

Why this matters: The decrease in GP practices and increase in closures to new patients highlights the growing challenges facing Scotland's healthcare system. With hundreds of thousands of Scots struggling to access GP services and facing long wait times for treatment, the situation is having a significant impact on both physical and mental health across the country.

The Scottish Government has acknowledged the issue and stated that they are committed to increasing the number of GPs in Scotland. A record 1,200 trainee GPs are coming through the training system, and the government has invested over £1.2 billion in General Medical Services for the 2023-24 period. However, the Scottish Liberal Democrats argue that more needs to be done, calling for swift access to care close to home and an expansion of specialists in areas such as mental health and physiotherapy.

Key Takeaways

  • GP practices in Scotland decreased in 12 of 14 health boards in 2024.
  • 79 practices (10% of total) closed lists to new patients, up from 19 in 2018.
  • Patients per GP increased in 13 of 14 health boards, up to 2,201 in Lanarkshire.
  • 1 in 5 Scots say mental health impacted by long GP and hospital wait times.
  • Scottish Govt aims to increase GPs, but Lib Dems call for more action on access.