By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has accused the Scottish Government of leaving “patients in pain”.
New Public Health Scotland figures revealed that the number of GPs working for Primary Care Out of Hours services had dropped by more than a fifth since 2019.
In the year ending 31st March 2022, the out of hours headcount was 1,205, a 23% drop in the headcount from 2019.
NHS health boards provide patients with Primary Care Out of Hours services when their GP Practice is closed and they are too unwell to wait for it to re-open. The services are mainly accessed by calling and being referred by NHS 24. Where serious, NHS 24 will call an ambulance.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s becoming harder and harder for patients to rely on out of hours services. That means more patients in pain and more patients lacking the vital care they need.
“It is yet another infuriating example of the SNP’s sustained neglect of the NHS over the last 15 years. Scottish Liberal Democrat research has shown that many patients are becoming so desperate that they are even performing treatment on themselves. More than ever, we need urgent action to boost the retention and recruitment of staff.
“This is a crisis of grim and grave magnitude. If the Cabinet Secretary does not act now, Nicola Sturgeon must find someone else who will.”