New Scottish Government measures to improve GP recruitment and retention are expected to boost GP numbers by at least 800 from the current 4900 over the next decade.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said: “While the number of GPs in the Falkirk Council area increased from 109 in 2006 to 134 last year, the number of patients registered with practices continues to rise steadily and I therefore welcome these measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of practices.

“The proposed new GP contract, which was agreed between the Scottish Government and the British Medical Association and will be voted on by GPs in the coming weeks, should go a long way towards addressing concerns about recruitment and retention by cutting doctors’ workload, offering them better support and ensuring they get to spend more time with patients and less time on red tape.

“But these new measures go further than that, showing once again the SNP Government’s commitment to GP services in Scotland, which already has the highest number of GPs per head of population in the UK.”

Planned measures include £100million of funding next year to support the implementation of the proposed new GP contract, continuing to provide bursaries for GP training places and a new staying-in-practice scheme to encourage GPs nearing the end of their career from retiring early.

Full details will be announced in the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Primary Care Workforce Plan.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of BMA Scotland’s GP Committee, said: “Working towards delivering 800 additional GPs for Scotland is a sensible and realistic target for the years ahead and I look forward to the Primary Care Workforce Plan that will show how this is to be achieved.

“Together with the wider measures in the proposed contract to make general practice a more attractive career, I believe that this can have a significant impact on improving GP recruitment and retention.”