HIGHLIGHTED ISSUE . . . Dr Neil Kelly of Annan
Dr Neil Kelly of the town’s Greencroft North Medical Centre has highlighted growing problems of recruiting young doctors.
He is lead clinician for the Local Health Partnership in Annandale and Eskdale and points out that the problem is a national one as there is a general shortage of GPs across the UK.
He said: “In rural parts of Scotland it is particularly difficult at the moment in terms of finding and recruiting trainees.
“We have 12 trainee places in the region and we have only been able to fill four of these at the moment and the problem is potentially a long-term one.”
Dr Kelly said that ten practices in Dumfries and Galloway currently have vacancies and the failure to recruit trainees will compound the problem.
He said: “Some young doctors who may have wanted to come here have opted to go to other areas with many wanting to stay in the central belt.”
Dr Kelly said the way things were going, it would be a case of being creative about how they used staff with help for doctors by advanced nurse practitioners carrying out some of the work.
There would, he suggested, be a similar pattern in other departments, including pharmacy.
They had to work out how best to assess the situation and work out how to deal with the problem which he admitted was serious.
He said: “We also have to look after an increasingly frail, older population who have medical problems. Many of the young doctors don’t want to come in and train.”
Dr Kelly said some young medics were concerned about stress and other problems resulting from increasing demands which were just not sustainable.
A survey by the British Medical Association last month showed that four out of ten surgeries in the area were affected and the problem.
The shortage, it has been pointed out, looks likely to get worse as many older GPs in Dumfries and Galloway approached retirement.
A South of Scotland MSP, Colin Smyth, Labour’s health spokesman, this week called on the Scottish Government to increase training of GPs.
He also criticised the Scottish Government for failing to train enough young doctors in recent years.
However, Ministers have stated they have increased investment in the NHS north of the border and recruited more healthcare professionals.