GPs are becoming "absolutely weary" and burnt out as a result of increasingly "intolerable" workloads, MSPs have been told.

The early signs of a workforce crisis are becoming apparent in the profession, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association's Scottish GP committee warned Holyrood's Health Committee.

Dr Andrew Buist was attending the committee to give evidence on health inequalities and access to services. He said general practice was losing older staff and failing to attract as many young doctors, while those who left to have families were not returning.

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GPs are also turning to part-time hours to cope with the job, Dr Buist said.

He told the committee: "We are seeing the early signs of a workforce crisis. "General practice has lost popularity with the young doctors coming into the profession. Older doctors are leaving slightly earlier, in their late 50s rather than hanging on into their early 60s, and we are also losing doctors in the middle of their careers."

Female GPs outnumbered males across UK for first time, he said. Dr Buist continued: "Women, when they go away to have families, they are not coming back into the profession, and one of the reasons for that is they are frankly burnt out.

"The workload is becoming intolerable. It is not something that is just particular to practices providing care in more deprived areas, it's across virtually the whole spectrum of general practice."