New GP practices should be established in areas with growing populations, the British Medical Association has said.

The British Medical Association Scotland said that within 23 years the country’s population was expected to rise by 7 per cent and this would put pressure on existing GP practices.

The body also warned that bigger GP lists affected patients’ ability to access services and said average list sizes had grown by nearly 100 since 2006.

It said it wants the Scottish government to provide support for the creation of new practices where there is “significant population growth”, such as areas with new housing development.

The BMA said town planners had a duty to consider the impact of new developments on local health services.

It also said that small but growing practices “do not receive sufficient funding to make them financially viable”.

According to the BMA, 19 of the 32 council areas in Scotland are expected to have growing populations, with the number of people in East Lothian increasing by 33 per cent and Perth and Kinross by 27 per cent.

Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs committee, said: “Everyone needs to have access to their GP at some point in their life, from immunisation of babies to care for the elderly.

“If we are to improve access and provide the range of services that patients need, then we have to make sure we have the capacity to deliver.

“At present there is no requirement for planning departments to consider the impact of new housing developments on local health services. We believe that it would be common sense to include this as part of the planning process.”

He was supported by Dr Ken Lawton, chair of the Royal College of GPs (Scotland).

Mr Lawton said: “GPs and their practice teams across Scotland are doing an excellent job of providing high quality services to patients but the impact of a rising population makes this ever more difficult.”

Today is the start of the first ever National General Practice Week in Scotland.