Set timetable to get GP surgeries back to normal, Scottish Government is told

The Scottish Government will be urged to set out a timetable for GP services to return to normal.

The Scottish Tories are set to table a motion for debate during their time on Wednesday afternoon, which would seek to push the Health Secretary into providing a restart date for the return of all services in GP offices, including increasing the number of face-to-face consultations.

Following the onset of the pandemic, GP services were scaled back and most appointments done by video link, but Dr Sandesh Gulhane – a GP and Scottish Tory public health spokesman – has said making this the default would result in medical conditions going undiagnosed, causing a “brutal domino effect” which would result in greater pressure on the health service in the future.

“Thousands of people are facing lengthy waits just for an initial appointment because my GP colleagues are overwhelmed with more patients than ever before,” Dr Gulhane said.

“The lack of a proper NHS recovery plan and the failure to deliver a network of long Covid clinics is putting frontline services under severe strain.

“Video consultations should not become the default for patients who need to be seen face-to-face. The SNP Government has to recognise that and start properly supporting GPs to restore services to normal as early as possible by getting hospital clinics and surgery waiting lists under control.”

He added: “If the SNP don’t set a target date and urgently increase the number of face-to-face consultations, many serious medical conditions will continue to go undiagnosed and untreated because of the demand to be seen by new patients and also desperate patients waiting to get help from hospitals, creating a brutal domino effect that will place greater demands on other frontline health services.

“The Scottish Conservative motion will hold the SNP to account on behalf of patients who need to get back in to see their GP in-person and to get in to see specialists in hospital.”

Given the agreement between the SNP and the Greens, this motion is unlikely to be passed without Government support.

The Tories have also said they will bring forward a vote on Wednesday afternoon on the controversial Cambo oil field near Shetland.

With scientists raising the alarm over climate change, activists have pushed for the Scottish Government to oppose the field, for which an exploration licence was granted more than a decade ago.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly refused to oppose the development, flying in the face of the Scottish Greens – who are in strident opposition.

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