Lamont raises concern over GP figures

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BERWICKSHIRE MSP John Lamont has raised concerns that a rise in the number of patients per GP in the region, for the first time in five years, could compromise the level of care.

According to Government statistics, the average number of patients per GP in the Borders currently stood at 1,129 in 2012, compared to 1,096 in 2011 and the highest result since the 2007 figure of 1,135.

John Lamont said that with more and more people moving into the region all the time, the figures were a warning that GPs could soon find themselves under too much strain.

He commented: “Our local GP service is crucial to the many people in the Borders who use it every year. Especially in the winter it is important that patients can be seen by their doctor as quickly as possible before any illness is allowed to get worse.

“It is therefore concerning to see that the average patient lists for local GPs in the Borders are getting longer. After good work in recent years to see them reduced they are now at a five year high, and it is important that action is taken to ensure that they don’t get any worse.

“Not only could this increase make it harder for patients to see their doctor quickly, it also puts the GP practises themselves under a lot of pressure.”

Responding to Mr Lamont’s concerns, Dr Sheena MacDonald, NHS Borders Medical Director, whilst acknowledging that services were having to adapt to an increasing and ageing population, said the Government figures no longer offered a true reflection of how practices deal with patients.

She commented: “While GP patient lists numbers are increasing in the Borders, these numbers are not in reality a very accurate indicator of GP workload.

“Since a new contract was introduced in 2004, patients no longer register with a specific GP, but with the practice, so it is harder to quantify a GPs individual list size and we no longer use this as a comparative measure.

“The new contract puts the emphasis on care being provided by the whole clinical team and so the number of patients on a GPs list is not very meaningful nowadays.”