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23 October 2017, 07:14
The Tories have launched a national campaign to boost the numbers of doctors amid evidence around 3,000 may have left Scotland to work abroad in recent years.
The party published estimates of the "brain drain" from Scotland's NHS as it called on the SNP to step up efforts to tackle recruitment and retention problems.
Figures obtained by the Conservatives from the General Medical Council show the number of doctors who have requested a certificate of current professional status, a document required by doctors who want to work abroad.
A total of 5,044 Scottish medics have done so since 2008, with the highest number of requests in 2015 and 2016 at 663 and 612 respectively.
While 2,149 remain connected to a "designated body", suggesting they did not ultimately leave, the remaining 2,895 are not "and are therefore almost certain to be working abroad", the Tories said.
The party is launching a Save Our Surgeries campaign, highlighting a warning from the Royal College of General Practitioners that Scotland needs to recruit 850 more GPs by 2021.
The campaign will be writing to every GP clinic in Scotland as well as urging an increase in the share of NHS funding for primary care.
Health spokesman Miles Briggs MSP said: "These figures show that as many as 3,000 Scottish trained doctors are currently working abroad - setting out starkly the brain drain we have seen in Scotland over the last decade.
"Of course every part of the UK has lost doctors to countries like Australia and New Zealand in recent years. But rather than point the finger elsewhere, the SNP must act on these figures and do more encourage doctors to come back - or not leave in the first place.
"A Scottish Conservative government would prioritise GP spending, so that 11% of all NHS spending went direct to the local practice, helping to boost working conditions, recruitment and retention.
"Scotland's GP's are at the forefront of our NHS - if we as a country can't get general practice right and working to deliver health services across Scotland then the rest of our NHS will continue to be destabilised."
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "The Scottish Government has increased investment in GP services every year since 2007 and we are committed to increasing the share of the NHS budget going to primary care in each year of this parliament.
"Funding in direct support of general practice will increase by £250 million by the end of this parliament - as part of our overall commitment to increase primary care funding by £500 million.
"In the current year, £71.6 million is being invested in direct support of general practice, which includes increasing funding for GP recruitment and retention fivefold to £5 million.
"We are also working with the British Medical Association to deliver a new GP contract which will provide a strengthened and clarified role for Scotland's GPs."