Fears of more GPs than ever burning out and seeking early retirement from the profession have been highlighted in the Scottish Parliament by Martin Whitfield MSP.

Speaking during General Questions, the South Scotland MSP cited a recent discussion with a senior figure in the profession who told him that the strain GPs are now under after years of increasing workload pressures and the pandemic, means record numbers are now at breaking point.

The warning comes just two weeks after Dr Andrew Buist, Chair of British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland’s GP committee, said that general practice in Scotland is ‘facing a critical time’ with ‘twin threats of practice workloads reaching breaking point and spiralling operating costs threatening the sustainability of practices’.

In his response to the question, the Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, acknowledged the scale of the problem facing primary care and accepted that the BMA has been raising the same issues with him.

Speaking after his question, Martin Whitfield MSP said: 

“GPs were under huge pressure even before the pandemic hit. But, like all frontline healthcare staff, they have experienced even greater strain and workload pressures over the last couple of years. Now, many are either at, or close to, breaking point, which is resulting in them seeking early retirement or leaving the profession all together.

“Just last month it emerged that the Scottish government has reduced extra sustainability funding for GPs to £10m from £15m for the 2022-23 financial year due to budget constraints. This short-changing of primary care will mean increased pressure on GP practices and people missing out on much needed medical help.

“The Scottish government must show they are serious about getting primary care right and valuing GPs by giving them the resources they need this winter.”

Watch Mr Whitfield’s question and the Health Secretary’s reply here.