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    Monday, 18 June 2018 17:31

moneyMarch 16 2016

GPs have welcomed a £20 million package of measures to help ease pressures on the general practice workforce in Scotland.

The package includes:

  • £11 million to uplift GP pay by 1% and uplift GP expenses by 1.5%, including funding to cover the costs of population growth in 2015-16;
  • £5 million to fund a GP from every practice in Scotland to take part in fortnightly sessions on cluster working, designed to develop their role in quality and leadership in the local health and social care system;
  • £2 million additional funding to improve or upgrade IT infrastructure in GP practices;
  • £2 million on three specific support measures called for by the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners’ Committee: funding a new rate for backfill cover for GPs taking maternity, paternity or adoption leave; developing
  • occupational health services for primary care staff; and supplying every GP practice in Scotland with oxygen cylinders for use in emergencies.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Shona Robison made the announcement at the BMA’s annual Scottish conference last week. She said the funding would be used to support GPs in the short term while negotiations continue towards putting general practice on a long-term sustainable footing. She also announced that the Scottish Government would begin work immediately to bring forward recommendations early in the next Parliament on tackling workload pressures and addressing issues with GP premises.

Ms Robison said the Scottish Government’s vision for primary care and GP services “is one that sees patients supported by a team of health professionals in the community, with the GP acting as the clinical lead – overseeing patient care and dealing with the most complex and urgent cases.

“We know that the current model is unsustainable and this new vision for community care is one we have developed in close consultation with the BMA and the wider primary care profession. Change on this scale does not happen overnight, and the next two to three years will be critical in transitioning towards these new models of care.”

She added that the new Scottish GP contract in 2017 “will be an important step towards making our shared vision become a reality.”

Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GPC, Dr Alan McDevitt, said the measures would help to alleviate some of the pressures that GPs are facing “but as the Cabinet Secretary acknowledges, more needs to be done and we welcome her collaborative approach to finding the solutions.

“The Cabinet Secretary has today demonstrated that she recognises and understands the problems facing general practice. It is essential that this recognition is also matched by a financial commitment to the future of general practice by investing in a new GP contract.

“Measures that provide immediate relief, such as occupational health for GPs, more effective backfill for maternity and paternity cover, a single performers list and free oxygen supplies, are very welcome and the BMA will continue to discuss with the Scottish Government what more it can do now to help practices, but ultimately, increased funding and staff are essential to secure the future of general practice.”

Dr Miles Mack, Chair of RCGP Scotland, commented: “This looks like promising news for hard working GPs and patients across Scotland. It is a small but hopefully significant step in the right direction.

“We are pleased to see an emphasis on the quality of patient care. Similarly, the £2 million for IT infrastructure is desperately needed. The development of an occupational health service for primary care staff will also be warmly welcomed, such is the pressure those at the front line have been facing for so long.

“Members across Scotland can perhaps see the beginnings of some positive action from Scottish Government responding to our manifesto and ‘Put patients first’ campaign for funding for general practice.”

Links:

Scottish Government announcement

BMA response

RCGP response

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