Briggs warns investment needed to expand Edinburgh GP services to avoid a “meltdown”.

Miles Briggs, Lothian MSP and the Shadow Health Secretary warned yesterday that significantinvestment was needed to expand local GP provision to avoid a “meltdown” in the service. Miles was speaking in a Parliamentary debate on the GP recruitment crisis in Scotland led by his West of Scotland Conservative colleague Jamie Greene MSP. Miles highlighted the report unveiled to Edinburgh’s IJB Board last Friday about the future GP premises provision required in the capital to meet rising demand from population growth. This report contained a series of stark warnings about the current and future pressures on GP services in the city. It stated that “during 2017/18 several schemes require progression to avert service failure” and went on to say “43 of 73 Edinburgh Practices lists are currently restricting patient registrations. If a growing population are unable to register with a GP, the current uncomfortable but accepted system of “allocation” to practices will almost certainly break down. This would quickly lead to several thousand people being unregistered with a GP and a consequent reliance on emergency services.” It also revealed how overstretched practice lists are, for example among practices that have opened since 1999 the original list size was 64,421 but there are currently 80, 403 on these lists.

Speaking in the debate Miles said:

“ Within NHS Lothian over 40% of GP practices are either full and not accepting new patients, or are restricting registration. Patients regularly contact me to complain about the difficulty in securing non-emergency GP appointments.

“ The situation in the Capital is especially serious. A report on the future GP premises provision that will be required in the next few years was considered by the Edinburgh IJB on Friday. It contained serious warnings about the pressure on local services as the city prepares for more than 55,000 people to live here by October 2026. Since 2009, the GP list size in Edinburgh has been growing at approximately 5,000 per year, equivalent to a new GP practice annually. The report states that while primary care has been very flexible in absorbing this new population “this elasticity is now exhausted in most areas of the city.”

“ It is clear significant investment is needed in new and expanded GP practices across Edinburgh if we are to avoid a meltdown in GP services which would lead to additional pressures on emergency health services.”

Miles added:

“ The Edinburgh GP premises report contains numerous stark warnings about just how much pressure there is on GP services across the city and how these pressures are going to increase as the area’s population continues to rise sharply. It is an indictment of ten years of SNP stewardship of our health service that almost 60% of practices within the city are restricting patient registration and that this report warns that unless GP services are increased then thousands of people in future might become unregistered and have to rely on emergency services for treatment.

“ NHS Lothian and the IJB are right to be making plans now to expand GP provision in the city but they need support from the Scottish Government to do this and I will be writing to the Health Secretary on the back of this report asking her what specific additional assistance she will provide to NHS Lothian to help them deal with this GP crisis.”

Miles Briggs