Factcheck: There is NO shortage of doctors in Scotland

In a rare snippet of accuracy, the Herald tells us what the BMA is

A union has taken aim at the Scottish Government for failing to tackle the shortage of doctors in the country.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said many doctors in the country are at breaking point, with pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic increasing their workflow, causing “huge fatigue, frustration and unhappiness”.


What is the evidence for this union’s claims?

Readers may not be surprised to see that no hard evidence of any kind is offered but merely unsubstantiated claims of a shortage of GPs, inadequate pay and a flood of retirees.

The anonymous writer at the Herald has no problem with just repeating the claims. There’s not a hint here of the professional journalistic standards such as reliable sourcing and evidence they often pretend to practice, unlike those amateurs on social media.

It’s not that hard.

First on shortages, these data may be 2 years old but they’re from the Nuffield Trust and BBC Scotland’s Lisa Summers:

Per head of population, Scotland has 31% more GPs. That is a very significant difference which must affect workload and service.

Second, on pay:

The average General practitioner salary in Scotland is £112,500. This is 43.0% more than the average national salary for General practitioner jobs. The average Scotland General practitioner salary is 261.3% more than the average salary across Scotland.


GP salaries in other affluent countries can be even higher but so are the costs of living there.

Third, on retirees, there’s little sign of evidence pointing to large numbers of Scottish GP’s retiring.

There is evidence, from all professions in NHS England of a noticeable level of movement to Public Health Scotland and a reduction in the number retiring.

Click to access workforce-report-june-2021-final.pdf

There is evidence of a 14.3% growth in overall NHS Scotland staffing over the last ten years, nearly twice as many joining as leaving in 2020-21 and a 3.3% increase in consultants in the last year. https://turasdata.nes.nhs.scot/data-and-reports/official-workforce-statistics/all-official-statistics-publications/01-june-2021-workforce/

Finally, from the Herald in January 2021:

89 new GPs registered as total number in Scotland rises to 5,134.


Flood of retirees? There’s no evidence but even if there was one, there’s a tide of new blood replacing them.

4 thoughts on “Factcheck: There is NO shortage of doctors in Scotland

  1. The ‘evidence’ is usually a ‘survey’ of members’ views based on a questionnaire:
    “Isn’t it true that you have never been under as much strain before and are now beyond breaking point and will leave as soon as possible?”

    Tick your answer in the list below:
    A. Yer dead right.


  2. £150Billion is being spent on the NHS in the UK. A quarter of all the tax revenues raised. On average £600Billion. £66Billion is raises in Scotland. More pro rata. NI has been raised increasing the amount £12Billion. The lower paid will bear the burden. Household costs are going up on average. £1200 a year.

    HS2 will cost Scotland £12Billion with no benefit. Scotland pays £1Billion too much for the military. Scotland has to pay £Billions on loan repayments not borrowed or spent in Scotland. Scotland pays £Billion for Westminster gross mismanagement.

    There are total supplies of lateral flow tests available at the test centres. They can be inaccurate. There is no shortage.


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