GPs are in crisis – patient lists are spiralling, surgeries closing and doctors in chronically short supply.

Meanwhile patients are struggling to get the healthcare they need. And they don’t know where to turn. The British Medical Association in Scotland says the situation has reached tipping point.

Now, in a new investigation – GPs in Crisis –  The Ferret, in partnership with the Herald, looks at the reality facing both patients and GPs across Scotland today.

The three-day series looks at doctor and patient perspectives, the rise of private healthcare and the solutions to some of the severe issues facing NHS primary health care. 

READ MORE: Fears for junior doctor 'exodus' as half look to quit NHS

It will run from Monday, 13 March to Wednesday, 15 March on both The Ferret and The Herald, a previously award-winning partnership.

In exclusive analysis we’ve found the number of patients registered to each GP has increased at almost one third of practices across Scotland in the last three years, with some doubling or even quadrupling the number of people registered with a single doctor. 

Patients told The Ferret they were left feeling cut adrift with some claiming they had “given up” on accessing GP care. Meanwhile GPs revealed their burn-out and exhaustion and some said they were seeing patients back-to-back for 13 hours at a time without having time to eat, drink or go to the toilet.

On day two of the investigation, we’ve been digging into the private healthcare companies moving into primary care and looking at the rise of GP chains.


But we’re not stopping with reporting the problems – we’re also looking at what works. Day three of the series investigates the potential solutions and hears from those questioning why we are not doing more to roll them out…before it’s too late.

Karin Goodwin, co-editor of The Ferret, said: “It’s clear both from the perspective of GPs and the patients relying on their services that primary health care is in crisis. Often the two sides are pitted against each other, but our investigation shows that both want the same thing – good, sustainable NHS health care that everyone can rely on.

“The challenges are deep and multiple - we have an ageing population and an increasing number of patients that each doctor needs to help. But we heard from those who claim that solutions, including different ways of working, have been evidenced. They insist Scotland is not powerless here - change is possible.”

READ MORE: Junior doctors to be balloted for strike action

Catherine Salmond, editor of The Herald, said: “The Herald has reported on the challenges and difficulties facing frontline workers and the growing strain on our National Health Service.

"This latest collaboration with The Ferret focuses on GP practises and, through the testimonies of doctors, staff and patients, shows how people across Scotland struggle to access even basic care.

“Past collaborations with The Ferret have affected real change and our findings in this latest series should provoke fresh thinking and serious discussion among politicians and decision makers."