(c) Glamorous Monk

I got this back-to-front having spotted McCardle’s fibs in the Herald and reported on it here, before I discovered that Alex Cole-Hamilton had asked a parliamentary question about it, a few days beforehand, to feed her the idea:

Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking in response is to reports that doctors are retiring before reaching the state pension age because of overwork.

Click to access WA20191203.pdf

So, here they are again; the facts:

GPs retiring early:

Only 167 out of 8 000 did in 2017-2018 and that was down from 185 the previous year:



Scottish GP headcount climbs for 3rd quarter in a row, is younger and more numerous than in England


GPs overworked:

According to BBC Scotland News in June 2019:

‘Patients should get appointments with GPs lasting at least 15 minutes rather than 10, according to the Royal College of GPs. In a report, it warns nearly 40% of GPs in Scotland feel overwhelmed by their workload at least once a week.’

Neither the report by the Royal College of General Practitioners. Fit for the future: a vision for general practice. May 2019. nor its compendium of evidence contain any such phrase. The word ‘overwhelmed’ does not appear at all and the word ‘workload’ is never associated with ‘Scotland’ or indeed with any figure but, in the BBC report (only), we see this:

‘RCGP Scotland chairwoman Dr Carey Lunan said: “Nearly 40% of GPs report that they feel so overwhelmed by their daily tasks that they feel they cannot cope at least once per week.’

The claim seems to be based entirely on an interview with Dr Lunan. We do not know whether she refers to the whole sample or to some Scottish sub-set available to her. Neither the report nor the compendium of evidence provides any raw data broken down into a Scottish sub-set. There is, of course, no methodology offered.

Perhaps there is another report, unspecified by the BBC or by Dr Lunan. I’d be happy to see and consider it, especially its methodology, but the RCGP only seem to have this one.

Scotland is mentioned in the report but only in positive sense. See these:

Page 8: In Scotland, 83% of people rate the overall care provided by their GP practice positively.

Page 9:


There are no negative comments regarding GPs and their workloads anywhere in the 60 pages of the Compendium of Evidence.