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Scotland will attempt to lure GPs across the border from England, it was revealed today.
Family doctors will be incentivised to swap their surgery for one north of the border as part of a massive recruitment drive.
Scotland wants to boost its family doctor numbers by 15 per cent over the next five years by hiring from ‘other areas of the UK and elsewhere’.
It will do so through an advertising blitz that will focus on ‘the unique attractions of working as a GP in Scotland’ including ‘job satisfaction and lifestyle’.
Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf said any boost to the nation’s GP numbers will create a ‘sustainable service for the future’.
Dr Chris Williams, joint chair of RCGP Scotland, said Scotland is a ‘truly unique place to work as a GP’ with ‘something for everyone’.
But England is grappling a GP crisis of its own. The Government is destined to fail on its manifesto pledge to hire 6,000 more GPs by 2024 and health chiefs have warned half of the current workforce could quit over the next five years.
It comes after Nicola Sturgeon announced a second Scottish referendum on independence will go ahead next October — with or without Westminster’s blessing.
Family doctors will be incentivised to swap their practice in England for one in Scotland as part of a massive recruitment drive
There are around 45,000 GPs and trainees working in England. But overall, there are now nearly 1,700 fewer full-time equivalents than in 2015
Many are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector because of soaring demand and paperwork.
Dwindling numbers over the past few years have made it even harder for patients to get appointments.
Scotland’s Government wants to hire 800 extra GPs by 2027, as part of the campaign launched today. It already has 5,195 family doctors, up from 4,918 in 2017.
Doctors want a 30% pay rise amid threat of NHS strikes
NHS doctors and GPs will push for a whopping 30 per cent pay rise, it was decided this week.
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) have asked their union to lobby ministers for a massive pay hike over the next five years.
They believe doctors have been shortchanged by ‘millions’ in real terms since 2008 due to inflation.
Doctors said they were prepared to join ‘picket lines’ to achieve pay restoration and admitted that industrial action was ‘likely’.
Members voted in favour of the motion at the BMA’s annual meeting in Brighton.
The union will now be mandated to push for the salary increase for all doctors, including GPs who make £100,000 per year, on average.
So far ministers have ruled out bowing to unions on pay, arguing that broad salary rises would only add fuel to Britain’s spiralling inflation.
Like the rest of the UK, Scotland’s primary care system was stretched thin during the pandemic.
One of the adverts include a slogan of ‘we prescribe Scotland’ set against the background of hikers at the top of Arthur’s Seat — an ancient volcano in Edinburgh that overlooks the over the idyllic city.
It is accompanied by text stating: ‘As a GP in Scotland, you’ll work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to make a real difference in your community.’
The campaign, supported by the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland, features two GPs who relocated from London to Scotland.
Mr Yousaf said: ‘GP surgeries continue to be extremely busy and we recognise the vital role they have played in responding to the pandemic.
‘Our focus now is on working with GPs to build a sustainable service for the future.
‘We are committed to recruiting a further 800 family doctors by 2027 and this campaign, which focuses on the unique attractions of working as a GP in Scotland, supports that aim.
‘We have a great deal to offer, both in terms of job satisfaction and lifestyle.’
The campaign follows other steps to boost NHS Scotland recruitment, including increasing undergraduate placements, incentivising moves to practices in rural locations and providing more development and support opportunities for GPs throughout their careers.
Scotland has already seen its most successful trainee recruitment period in five years, with 99 per cent of GP training posts filled.
England’s GP postcode lottery was laid bare today as official data showed some areas have half as many doctors per patient as others. Nuffield Trust analysis shows there are 39.5 GPs caring for every 100,000 people in Portsmouth. People in Thurrock have 40.3 family doctors for every 100,000 people in the area and in Hull there are 41.9 per 100,000
The patient-doctor ratio across the country has jumped a quarter from 7,465 in September 2015 to 9,457 in February this year, according to NHS Digital data
Dr Williams said: ‘Scottish general practice is facing significant challenges and recruiting into the profession has never been more important.
‘I am delighted to welcome the launch of a new national GP recruitment campaign.
‘Scotland is a truly unique place to work as a GP, with a fantastic range of opportunities available from delivering care in remote and rural communities, to working at the heart of our diverse, inner-city neighbourhoods.
‘There really is something for everyone.
‘At RCGP Scotland we will continue to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government and others to ensure that we can build the GP workforce that Scotland requires to deliver the highest standard of care for our patients.’