GPs offered new contract
Plans for investment and reform to give GPs more time with patients most in need of their skills have been published by the Scottish Government. A new GP contract, jointly designed and agreed with the British Medical Association, will be the biggest reform of GPs services in over a decade. The proposals have been welcomed by the Scottish Greens, who say the plan is a step in the right direction in tackling health inequality.
The proposals will ensure that all patients get the support they need from an extended community healthcare team – led by GPs and including nurses, physiotherapists, community mental health workers, paramedics, and pharmacists – to ensure more patients get the best and most appropriate care. This means GPs are able to best use their skills as expert medical generalists to spend more time with the people who need them most.
Alongside this, the Scottish Government is also announcing an additional £30 million over three years to help reduce the risks to GPs of leasing or owning premises and improve practice sustainability.
The move is part of an overall transformation in community health services which will see an additional £500 million invested every year by 2021, £250 million of which will be invested in direct support of general practice.
Health Secretary Shona Robison today visited a practice in Clydebank to meet Jane McNiven and her granddaughter, baby Evie, while they get a check-up from a practice nurse.
Ms Robison said: “GPs tell us they want to spend more time with patients with undiagnosed illness and less time on bureaucracy, while patients say they want better access to GPs when they really need them. We have listened and, I believe, we have achieved that balance.
“These changes will give patients the right care in the right place, and give those who need to see GPs the most the time they need. Patient safety is at the very heart of this agreement and is the central principle guiding how changes will be implemented.
“We are also investing in facilities which will offer more doctors the chance to enter the profession.
“We’ve worked closely in partnership with the British Medical Association on shaping the future of general practice and primary care and we are confident that this contract best supports Scotland’s healthcare needs while also making general practice an even more attractive career prospect for doctors.”
GPs have between December 7 and 4th January 2018 to take part the a poll on whether to accept the new contract, which will come into effect on 1 April 2018.
Scottish GP Chair of the BMA Alan McDevitt said: “I truly believe that we have negotiated a contract that will make general practice sustainable for the future. Our aim was to reduce workload pressures, reduce individual risk and stabilise practice income, and these are all addressed in this contract.
“This historic agreement will help make general practice an attractive career choice once more.”
Welcoming the announcement Alison Johnstone MSP, health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, says her party has been campaigning on the issue for some time, highlighting how GP practices in more deprived areas currently receive only £2.28 more per patient.
The Lothian MSP said: “This proposed contract by the BMA will go some way to addressing many GP concerns. As Scottish Greens have stressed to government ministers, currently GPs working in deprived communities with greater workloads are only getting an extra £2.28 per patient. But with fairer funding for these patients, GPs could allow for longer consultation times with those who need it most.
“If we’re serious about reducing health inequality in society we must increase and target our resources.”