Scottish Government criticised as hundreds of GPs and dentists retire early

The Scottish Government’s health workforce planning has been criticised after it was revealed hundreds of doctors and dentists have retired early.

Of the 802 doctors and dentists across Scotland who started drawing their pension between 2015-16 and 2017-18, just 40 were at state pension age.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through freedom of information legislation indicate 541 GPs and 221 dentists retired early in the three-year period.

The average age of the GPs starting to collect their pension was 59 in 2015-16 and 2016-17, dropping to 58 the following year.

For dentists, it was 59 in 2015-16, falling to 58 the following year, then rising again to 59.

Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton called for an end to the “neglect” of primary care, which includes GPs, dentists, community pharmacists and eye health services.

He said: “Hundreds of GPs and dentists have left their professions before reaching their state pension age.

“Many doctors are exhausted and disenchanted.

“At every turn the Scottish Government has mucked up workforce planning in the health service, while years of disinvestment has piled the pressure on primary care.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton
Alex Cole-Hamilton wants action on workforce planning (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Mr Cole-Hamilton said his party is “clear that we need to see an end to the neglect of primary care”.

He added: “To keep staffing levels sustainable and make medical careers attractive they need to make sure health professionals have the resources and backup they need to get the job done.”

The Lib Dems want a mental health practitioner in every surgery to reduce waiting times and take pressure off GPs.

Mr Cole-Hamilton also called for an annual report and parliamentary debate on workforce planning.

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