Fife’s growing GP crisis: We’re on the case, say health bosses

GPs say they are struggling with staff shortages and financial pressures
GPs say they are struggling with staff shortages and financial pressures

Health bosses are aware of a growing crisis in Fife’s GP service and are already tackling the problem, assures Fife NHS.

The message comes after a national report stated more than a third of Fife’s GPs are struggling to cope with their workloads and as many as 40 per cent would choose another career if given the choice again.

The survey, conducted by the Liberal Democrats is set out in a paper entitled The Crisis in Scottish Parliament Healthcare.

Dr Frances Elliot, NHS Fife’s medical director, who is leading the development of a new clinical strategy for Fife through Health and Social Care Partnership, said strengthening primary care services formed a key part of the plan.

She said: “NHS Fife recognises the pressures that general practice is facing and is committed to work with local practices to find solutions to the workforce shortages that are being experienced in Fife as well as across the rest of the UK.”

A number of measures were being taken to enhance support offered to GP surgeries to ensure patients continued to receive the” best possible standard of care.

That included adapting the skill mix within practices to enable the recruitment of clinical pharmacists, advanced nurse practitioners and other health and social care professionals to support existing teams.

A successful bid has also been made to Scottish Government to pilot new community physicians, which will see fully qualified GPs undergo an extra year of training in community and hospital work.

Six people have been recruited to a three year programme in Dunfermline and, if successful, the model will be rolled out across Fife.

Dr Elliot said: “This will help support practices deliver early intervention and more preventative care for the benefit of patients and families.”

Dr Gerald Burnett, GP and chairman of the Fife Local Medical Committee, said GPs faced escalating demand daily in the face of staff shortages and financial pressure. 

“There must be a shift of resource to primary care to enable GPs to meet this demand.

“I support Dr Elliot’s focus on continued high quality of patient care which must be coupled with solutions and funding,” he said.

Cllr Andrew Rodger, joint chairman of the shadow integrated board for Health and Social Care, said: “I have seen first-hand how patients have benefited from major investment in new surgeries and new services in my local area.

“We as individuals need to play a part in helping our family doctors feel we are gradually putting models of care in place that will support them and make life easier for them.”

Lib Dem leader calls for action

Councillor Tim Brett – a former chief executive at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee – said the report’s results were “damning” and highlighted the real pressures faced by doctors in Fife.

“It is to be regretted the Scottish Government was unaware of the looming crisis in Primary Care and appears to deny the existence of any crisis,” he commented.