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Further support for GPs

Published: 11 Mar 2016 11:40

Health Secretary announces new measures worth £20 million.

Health Secretary Shona Robison today outlined details of a £20 million package for GPs to ease pressures on the workforce over the next year.

Speaking at the British Medical Association's annual Scottish conference of Local Medical Committees, Ms Robison said the funding would be used to support GPs in the short term, while negotiations towards putting General Practice on a long-term, sustainable footing continue.

The package includes:

  • £11 million to uplift GP pay by one per cent and uplift GP expenses by 1.5 per cent. This also includes 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 (SGPC): 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

Ms Robison also announced that the Scottish Government would begin work immediately, in partnership with the BMA and other key stakeholders, to bring forward recommendations early in the next Parliament on tackling workload pressures and addressing issues with GP premises.

Speaking after the conference, Ms Robison said: "The Scottish Government has a clear vision for the future of primary care and GP services.

"It 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. We are already well on our way to testing this approach in areas across the country, and a new Scottish GP contract in 2017 will be an important step towards making our shared vision become a reality.

"The package of measures I have announced today is not only an investment in the future but is very much designed to address short-term pressures on GPs and their practice staff. They are immediate actions which we can progress now, while working towards the long-term change that I know GPs are calling for.

"I look forward to continuing our constructive relationship with Alan McDevitt and his team at the SGPC as we finalise the new GP contract, and want to work in partnership to deliver the much-needed, whole scale change across primary care that will benefit both GPs and the patients they serve."

Notes to editors

A copy of the speech is available here:

The measures announced today will build on progress already underway to make GP and primary care services more sustainable, including:

  • The £20 million package announced today for general practice is over and above the established commitment to invest £85 million across primary care over three years. The investment in primary care will: test new models of delivering services through the Primary Care Transformation Fund; support the development of a National Delivery Plan to take forward the recommendations of Sir Lewis Ritchie's National Review of Out of Hours Services; support GP recruitment, retention and leadership; develop online GP services; build capacity and capability of the primary care workforce; purchase equipment and support the Scottish School of Primary Care to assist evaluation of this work.
  • Five sites, testing cluster working and multi-disciplinary team models, already up and running in Inverclyde, Govan, Edinburgh, Tayside and Grampian.
  • Removal of the bureaucratic system of GP payments (Quality Outcomes Framework) from April 2016.
  • GP training places increased by a third from this year and increased support for return to practice schemes.
  • Working with the BMA to develop a brand new three-year contract for GPs in Scotland from 2017.