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Major change to bureaucratic system of GP payments

Published: 1 Oct 2015 11:30

Health Secretary addresses major UK GP conference

Health Secretary Shona Robison today committed to significantly reducing time-consuming bureaucracy for GPs as she set a vision for the future of the profession at the Royal College of General Practitioners' Annual Conference in Glasgow.

Speaking to GPs from across the UK at the SECC this morning, Ms Robison set out the Scottish Government's strategy for modernising primary care services and called on GPs to work with the Government to transform the delivery of community care.

In the speech, Ms Robison announced that the Scottish Government will begin work with the BMA to dismantle the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) system of GP payments, reducing further the bureaucratic burden on GPs, with transitional arrangements in place for 2016-17 in preparation for the new contract in 2017.

The full text of the speech is available on the Scottish Government website: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=139.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "I was delighted to be able to address the Royal College of General Practitioners' annual UK conference – it's great to see this major conference come to Glasgow and I welcomed the opportunity to outline Scotland's very different, collaborative approach to the provision of NHS care.

"GP services in this country, and across the UK, undeniably face challenges providing local community services to their patients. The increasingly elderly population and difficulties with recruitment and retention of GPs is putting pressure on NHS services and Governments right across Britain.

"Today, I have clearly outlined to the conference the strategy in Scotland for dealing with these issues. The problems cannot be solved overnight, and it will take time, but we are working to build a consensus around the way forward and have already begun to put in place some of the solutions that primary care needs.

"I have always said I want to work with GPs in addressing the problems faced by the profession. Today I have announced that we will begin discussions to remove the outdated QOF system of payments for GPs, which I know many in the profession find bureaucratic and time-consuming.

"I have also given the conference a cast iron guarantee that we will not be following the UK Government's plans to cut junior doctors' pay. I know that the RCGP are particularly concerned the proposals and the growing confusion and alarm that this is causing trainees.

"Similarly, we are listening to GPs on funding issues. I recognise the need for further investment in primary care and have given the assurance that it is one of my key priorities for the months and years ahead.

"Our three year £60million Primary Care Fund should be seen as just the starting point for our commitment to ensuring primary care and the GP profession receives the kind of investment it needs to deal with the considerable challenges of the future.

"As I set out in my speech, in return we would like to see GPs empowered to deliver the leadership and commitment to help drive forward the changes necessary in primary care. We must start now in creating the conditions to talk up general practice – and the profession has a responsibility here as well. GPs are the clinical leaders of their communities and under this Government's plans they will have an exciting future playing an ever more important role in the NHS."

Background

Key highlights from the speech include:
• GPs are an integral and strategically vital part of the NHS – influencing the decisions and actions of a significant proportion of activity within the NHS system
• The new GP contract in 2017 will be fundamental to achieving the change needed, and preparations for this should continue in tandem with immediate action to address day-to-day pressures.
• The Scottish Government has recently invested a further £60million over three years to the Primary Care Fund – which has been allocated to projects to reduce GP workload and give GPs the time to test new ways of working.
• This includes £2.5million which has been set aside on a joint project with the RCGP to enhance GP recruitment and retention in Scotland
• A record sum - more than £770 million - is invested in general practice and increased investment in primary care is one of the Government's key priorities for the months and years ahead.
• The Scottish Government will begin work with the BMA to dismantle the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) system of GP payments, reducing further the bureaucratic burden on GPs, with transitional arrangements in place for 2016-17 in preparation for the new contract in 2017.
• In Scotland, there are no plans to follow the UK Government in imposing a new contract on junior doctors.
• The Scottish Government will work to increase the number of GP graduates from medical schools – committing that Scotland will train more GPs and work with universities to increase the attractiveness of general practice as a career option for medical student
• The findings and recommendations from the Primary Care Out of Hours Review being led by Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie will be published later this year and following this, the Scottish Government will work quickly to take forward improvements to GP out-of-hours services

In the Programme for Government launched on September 1, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the testing of new models of primary care within Scotland: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/NHS-in-the-community-plans-1cab.aspx

Full details of the Scottish Government's Primary Care Fund are available online: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Primary-care-investment-1a90.aspx

The review of Primary Care Out-of-Hours services was launched in January: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Review-of-out-of-hours-primary-care-1568.aspx