PEOPLE in North Ayrshire are struggling to get an appointment with their local GP, the local MSP has warned.

Kenneth Gibson told the Scottish Parliament that constituents in his Cunninghame North seat have raised concern with him at the time it's taking to secure an appointment to see their doctor.

The SNP representative had asked health secretary Neil Gray for an update on steps the Scottish Government were taking to increase the number of GPs in Scotland.

And in a follow up question, Mr Gibson asked: "Given concerns raised by constituents about the time taken to obtain an appointment, how much have patient numbers presenting at GP surgeries risen since the pandemic and what work has been undertaken by surgeries to improve the efficiency of their appointment systems?"

His question follows growing concern in North Ayrshire about GP appointment systems where, at some surgeries, patients sometimes have to wait for an hour or more before getting through to receptionists in the hope of getting an appointment.

Other patients have complained about being forced to head to surgeries and queue to get appointments in the morning, only to be told all the slots had been filled within minutes of the opening times.

Kenneth Gibson said constituents had complained to him of a long wait to get an appointment with their GP.Kenneth Gibson said constituents had complained to him of a long wait to get an appointment with their GP. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Gray responded: "We have a far higher number of GPs per head of population here in Scotland than is present in England or indeed Wales.

"That is not a situation we are complacent about, which is why we are investing in GP training programmes as well as the recruitment and retention work to ensure that there is equity of access between urban and rural areas.

"We know that 90 per cent of all health service interaction comes from primary care and the complexity of patients arriving at GP practices has increased since the pandemic, which means that the length of time that GPs need to see their patients has increased, meaning that there is great pressure on these services.

"That is why we are investing in the multi disciplinary teams to provide the capacity support that the primary care practitioners need."

Earlier, Mr Gray told Holyrood: "Let me be clear: GPs are highly valued in our NHS. I thank them for their tireless work supporting patients in out communities.

"I remain fully committed to increasing the number of GPs in Scotland by 800 by 2027.

"The GP head count has increased by 271 since 2017 and is consistently over 5,000.  We have expanded GP specialist training, adding 35 places this academic year and 35 places next year.

"There are currently over 1,200 trainee GPs in Scotland, a record, and we invest over £1million in a range of recruitment and retention initiatives."