THE health of Scottish children is at risk because of a shortage of paediatric doctors, a new report has warned.

A study by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) found the paediatric workforce in Scotland is on the brink of a recruitment crisis and needs to increase the number of doctors by a quarter to cope.

Recruitment of consultant paediatricians in Scotland lags behind England, with the number of doctors increasing by five per cent between 2015 and 2017 compared to 8.2 per cent south of the border.

To deliver the required standards of care to children, the number of paediatric consultants must rise by 25 per cent, or 82 doctors, according to the RCPCH.

General paediatricians, who care for children from birth to late adolescence, are the biggest area of the shortfall, accounting for more than half of the extra recruitment needed.

The RCPCH report calls for funding for an extra year of GP training to include paediatric and child health training for all trainees, in addition to financial incentives to attract and retain paediatricians, particularly in remote or rural areas.

Professor Steve Turner, officer for Scotland at the RCPCH, said: “Tackling the shortage of paediatric doctors needs to be a priority. Unless more doctors are trained to be paediatricians today, the situation where paediatric wards are being closed will only get worse.

“We are grateful eight additional posts will be available for 2019 - but this is a one-off “sticking plaster”.

“I urge the Scottish Government, NHS Education Scotland, and the Scottish Health Boards to seriously consider how best to implement our recommendations as a matter of urgency.”