All of Scotland has faced significant recruitment and retention issues in general practice in recent years; the number of Whole time Equivalent GPs in Scotland decreased between 2019 and 2022, and Audit Scotland has stated the Scottish Government is not on track to recruit the promised 800 new GPs by 2027. The recruitment and retention issues in remote and rural areas, however, are especially acute. Many rural and remote GPs have reported feeling as though they cannot retire as they are concerned there is no way in which their post would be filled once they have ceased practising, and others have noted difficulties in recruiting when their practice needs to expand due to increased list sizes, or to cover workforce needs when a GP reduces the number of sessions they undertake. Current schemes focused on recruitment such as the golden handshake have not significantly boosted recruitment in rural areas, while the retention schemes in place in Scotland are poorly subscribed to and ineffective in assisting GPs to stay in practice. Tailored, rural and remote-centric schemes are needed to improve both retention and recruitment outcomes. An inquiry seeking to better understand how schemes could assist GPs to stay in practice through direct engagement with rural and remote GPs would be beneficial, as would an assessment of current programmes such as the golden handshake, ScotGEM etc., and other current schemes. There is also a need to expand medical school places to make them more available to people from diverse and less academically advantaged backgrounds, and this can often include students from rural and remote areas. An inquiry which investigates how expanding medical school placements in rural areas via innovative placements could help assist with overall recruitment in general practice in Scotland would be welcome. A further examination of how countries comparative to Scotland recruit into general practice in remote and rural areas would also be beneficial.
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