A push for returning GP practices fully to face-to-face consultations by the Scottish Conservatives has failed.
Using opposition debate time, Tory health spokeswoman Annie Wells tabled a motion to urge the Scottish Government to set a date for the full return to usual GP services.
During the pandemic, the number of face-to-face consultations was hugely cut to stop the spread of Covid-19, but Ms Wells has pushed for a timetable to be put in place.
An amendment to the motion, tabled by Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, was passed by MSPs, removing the requirement for a timeline, before the amended motion was passed by 89 to 30.
Speaking in the debate, Ms Wells said GPs are “overwhelmed with patients”.
“People need help today, they need help now,” she added.
“This has all the components to generate a brutal domino effect across the NHS in Scotland.
“Many medical conditions will continue to go undiagnosed and untreated, leading to tragic yet entirely avoidable consequences.”
Mr Yousaf said the Tory motion, which called for a “return to normal activity”, was both “reckless” and “premature” as Scotland recorded another 30 deaths from Covid-19.
While Dr Sandesh Gulhane, Tory public health spokesman and practicing GP, said the NHS was “overrun”.
“Let’s be clear: GPs are working hard, GPs are seeing patients, GPs up and down this country are pulling out all the stops, but GPs are overrun because the system is failing them.
“We need the capacity to be able to see more patients face to face, we never stopped seeing patients face to face but we want to see more.”
He added: “As NHS professionals, myself included, we have no choice but to carry on, our patients’ lives depend on us.
“But as a parliamentarian, I’m calling on the Scottish Government to start producing details on how it plans to save the NHS under it’s watch.
“The system is failing GPs and we need help.”
Public health minister Maree Todd praised the works of NHS staff during the pandemic, saying: “We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for stepping up when it really mattered.”
Ms Todd went on to agree that the number of face to face consultations in Scotland would need to increase.
“I accept there is a need to rapidly increase the availability of face to face appointments in partnership with the profession,” she said.
Ms Todd went on to say steps set out in the NHS remobilisation plan, along with the support from bodies such as BMA Scotland will allow this to happen “as quickly as possible”, adding: “But more importantly, as safely as possible.”
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