Public finances watchdog Audit Scotland has called for ‘fundamental change’ in the way that the NHS delivers services to cope with increases in patient demand and difficulties recruiting enough GPs and other professionals.
Audit Scotland’s report NHS in Scotland 2015 states that there were almost one million GP out of hours consultations in 2014/15 and that the proportion of GPs aged over 50 increased from 28% to 34% between 2004 and 2014.
Spending on locum doctors increased by 22% in 2014/15, Audit Scotland found.
As at March this year only two of nine key waiting time targets and standards were met, reflecting a general decline in performance in recent years, the report states.
It also describes how NHS Highland is trying to recruit GPs from countries such as the Netherlands and New Zealand by starting a website outlining the advantages of being a rural GP.
Auditor general for Scotland Caroline Gardner said: ‘We all depend on the NHS and its staff who provide high quality care. But it will not be able to provide services as it does at present due to the number of pressures it faces within the current challenging environment.
‘It is important that the Scottish Government and health boards work closely together to help alleviate these pressures and also increase the pace of change necessary to meet its long term ambitions.’
NHS Highland spokesperson said about its scheme: ‘We’ve had a steady trickle of interest from nurses, doctors, paramedics and the like. We’re continuing to advertise with articles, tweets, the microsite and attendance at relevant conferences.
‘This is about moving away from the traditional methods such as local newspapers and professional magazines into using modern communicative methods in a proactive, highly visible and interactive manner while also re-designing the services on the ground from doctor only into multi-disciplinary teams of health and care professionals, of whom doctors are one component part.’