About this release

This report by Information Services Division (ISD) presents results from the 2019 Primary Care Out of Hours Workforce Survey. The survey is an important source of information to support workforce planning for Out of Hours services. The report presents responses to the survey by Primary Care Out of Hours (OoH) services. All 14 NHS Boards responded to the survey.

Main points

  • The number (headcount) of GPs working for Primary Care Out of Hours (OoH) services in Scotland in the year ending 15th November 2019 was 1,879, equating to an estimated Whole Time Equivalent of 329.6.
  • Within Primary Care OoH services, 9% of the GPs worked 1,000 hours or more over the year and their total annual hours accounted for nearly half (45%) of the total GP hours worked.
  • Eight NHS Boards had to take additional action at least weekly to ensure shifts are filled, either by extending shifts, having nurses cover GP shifts or vice versa, or by offering additional financial incentives.
  • As observed in previous surveys, GPs aged over 55 years worked a higher average number of hours per week in Primary Care OoH services than younger GPs.
Image caption Mean GP hours in Primary Care OoH services, by age group: Scotland 2015 - 2019
Bar chart showing main points.
  • In recent years, the proportion of female GPs in the OoH workforce has increased, however the mean hours worked for female GPs are lower than males across all age groups.
  • The number of nurses employed or directly managed by Primary Care OoH services has increased steadily since 2015.


The Primary Care Out of Hours Workforce Survey was developed to meet a need for centrally collated information on the workforce involved in the provision of Primary Care Out of Hours (OoH) services. Prior to 2019, information on Primary Care Out of Hours Workforce was collected as part of the wider Primary Care Workforce Survey. A new centrally collected dataset on the wider primary care workforce has been developed to replace the previous survey (further information about this is available here), however, as this does not include data on Out of Hours workforce there is a continued requirement for the data collected through this survey.

The survey was reviewed prior to the 2019 survey to ensure that it is focused on providing the key data required for workforce planning in as pragmatic and efficient a manner as possible.

Further information

Refer to our web page (external website) for the 2019 survey material.

ISD also publishes routine statistics on General Practice available here (external website).

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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