GPs to share concerns with health minister
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison will today hear concerns over the number of GP vacancies in the isles.
MSP Tavish Scott will be joined by local GPs at the meeting in Edinburgh and will press for additional government support in recruiting doctors.
There has been a shortage of GPs for a number of years and practices in Whalsay, Yell and Lerwick have had to turn to temporary doctors as a stop gap. The use of costly locum GPs has added to the financial strain on the practices.
Mr Scott says the decline in GP recruitment has also led to concerns among local GPs that NHS Shetland may have to consider squeezing the already tight budgets of smaller GP practices across the islands.
Before Tuesday’s meeting Mr Scott said: “Everyone including NHS Shetland wants to reduce the uncertainty and cost of temporary GP cover. The aim must be to recruit full time, permanent GPs for local practices. At a time when health budgets are being squeezed, this continuing situation does not help.
“So, I will be asking the health secretary to step in and assist. After all the NHS is a top down bureaucracy driven by ministers in Edinburgh.”
The meeting comes after Mr Scott last week highlighted that the Scottish government’s funding formula had left healthcare in Shetland underfunded by £900,000. Mr Scott pressed this point on Ministers at Holyrood.
The MSP said NHS Shetland should be kicking up more of a fuss over the funding gap. And after Ms Robison said the organisation had received “record funding” Mr Scott accused her of using “smoke and mirrors” tactics to try to explain why NHS Shetland was “two per cent” shy of its fair share of funding.
NHS Shetland chief executive said recently that the funding was within one per cent of its funding target and that the budget gap would be closed when the next budget is set in the autumn.
More in Friday’s Shetland Times.