Jackie Baillie has warned that GP shortages are creating “chaos” as the number of GPs in out of hours services plummets.

A new report has revealed that the number of wholetime equivalent GPs working in primary care out of hours services dropped by around a fifth between 2019 and 2022 across the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area. This same decrease was reflected in Scotland-wide figures.

The out of hours GP headcount in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde fell by 139 over that time with just 44.4 wholetime equivalent GPs now working in the service across nine sites – including at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

The report warned that “eight NHS Boards had to take additional action at least weekly to ensure shifts are filled”, such as extending shifts or having nurses cover GP shifts.

In early 2020, prior to the Covid pandemic, the out of hours unit at the Vale was restricted to opening between 11pm and 8am only.

It had been dogged by last-minute closures for a number of years due to difficulty finding staff to cover, leaving patients to travel to Paisley instead.

The latest staffing figures for the units follows news that the total number of wholetime equivalent GPs in Scotland fell by 119 between 2019 and 2022 despite rising patient numbers.

Dumbarton constituency MSP Jackie Baillie said: “Primary care in Scotland is paying the price for the SNP’s disastrous workforce failures. My constituents who access the out of hours service at the Vale of Leven Hospital know how difficult it has been to access services in the past due to the difficulty with staffing.

“The SNP have broken their promises on GP numbers, slashed primary care budgets and this is wreaking havoc with vital out of hours services.

“Right across the board, primary care in Scotland is facing a perfect storm of rising demand and declining capacity as the workforce face stress and burnout.

“The Health Secretary must put a stop to this chaos by properly supporting primary care and finally delivering on the promises he’s made on GP numbers.”

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