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GP list sizes soar across Scotland as surgeries close

The average size of a GP patient list in Scotland has increased significantly in the past two years, new figures have shown.

Each practice has had an average of 153 extra patients since 2019/20 as local surgeries close and the NHS buckles under the pressure of dwindling resources.

The new Public Health Scotland statistics show that, two years ago, there were 935 GP practices in Scotland to cater for 5.77 million patients.

However, since then the number of practices dropped to 928 in 2020/21 and then 922 last year.

In the same timeframe, the population has also increased slightly to 5.83 million.

That means the average list size is now 6,324 per practice, compared to 6,171 two years ago.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:

“The SNP government has been warned for years about the challenges facing general practice in Scotland.

“But ministers have chosen to ignore the impact of an increasing and ageing population and the fact GPs are finding it tougher to carry on, leading to many leaving the profession.

“The upshot of that is there are more people to cram into fewer practices, as these statistics prove.

“That means more work for hard-pressed GPs as well as a poorer level of service for patients who value and need their local doctor.

“In turn, that piles on further pressure to other areas of the health service.

“Perhaps if the nationalists in charge of Scotland’s government for the past 16 years had spent more time on people’s priorities instead of their own, vital areas like this would be in better shape.”


The Public Health Scotland figures can be accessed here under the “costs summary” data file.

It shows the following population levels and GP practices available for the last three years:

- 2019/20 – 935 practices serving total list size of 5,769,985 (average 6,171 patients per practice)

- 2020/21 – 928 practices serving total list size of 5,784,870 (average 6,234 patients per practice)

- 2021/22 – 922 practices serving total list size of 5,831,256 (average 6,324 patients per practice)

1 Comment

Mar 02, 2023

With higher taxes in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK why should a GP do the same job in Scotland .They keep a significant amount more of their earnings in England .

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