Collaboration will examine new ways of structuring primary care
A major project to test new ways of structuring primary care services has been launched in Inverclyde.
The pilot will look at how the role of the GP can be refocused, reducing the time they spend on tasks that could more appropriately be done by other health professionals and examining how these staff can support patients in the community.
The project involves at least 15 GP practices serving nearly 80,000 people and will see professionals working together in clusters, improving resource and staff planning and enhancing links to other health services.
The pilot scheme is jointly led by the Scottish Government, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee and Inverclyde Health & Social Care Partnership. It is funded through the Scottish Government's Primary Care Transformation fund.
The results of the test project will inform the new Scottish GP contract due to be implemented in 2017.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "Primary care is the cornerstone of our health service and GPs play a vital role in supporting people to live well within our communities.
"However, we are acutely aware of the challenges the GP profession faces in recruiting and retaining more doctors. This, coupled with a rise in patients with more complex and long-term health needs, puts increasing pressure on the existing GP workforce and we must find new ways of working that can make our community services sustainable in the future.
"That is why we are working to transform primary care services and the Inverclyde project is at the forefront of this work, allowing us to test a range of approaches that could potentially be scaled up to a national level if they are successful. The 2017 Scottish GP contract, with the work we are doing to remove bureaucracy and increase the attractiveness of the profession, is a key strand at the centre of this transformation.
"The essence of this work is to modernise the role of the GP – making them a senior clinical decision maker in the community, working with a wide range of health professionals in a team to deliver appropriate care to patients.
"We also want to look at whether closer working across a partnership area could be effective in managing demand and improve patient access to GP services. This test site will allow us to see what works and what doesn't – helping to inform future decisions about the new GP contract.
"Our £60 million Primary Care Transformation Fund is supporting this work, allowing us to work collaboratively with GPs to design services that are both fit for the future and meet the needs of the people of Scotland."
Brian Moore, Chief Officer, Inverclyde Health & Social Care Partnership said: "I welcome this opportunity for Inverclyde to be at the forefront of the development of new and innovative ways of multi-disciplinary working to help address the very real pressures on our GPs, whose services are the cornerstone of the our local NHS services. We will be building on our strong relationships with GPs and the health and social partnership working, which we already have in place."
Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of the BMA's Scottish GP Committee, said: "We are pleased to be working with the Scottish Government, the Health Board and the Health and Social Care Partnership to explore how best to support GPs and allow them to spend more time with those who need their skills.
"Improving access for patients to a wider group of health professionals should also mean that it is easier to see a GP when necessary. We are looking to implement measures that will ensure the sustainability of general practice, reduce the workload burden on GPs and allow them to use their skills to improve outcomes for patients."
In June 2015, the Scottish Government announced an additional £60 million would be invested in primary care, through the Primary Care Transformation Fund, to support the primary care workforce, including GPs, and improve patient access to these services: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Primary-care-investment-1a90.aspx
In October, Health Secretary Shona Robison announced that Scotland would begin work with the BMA to dismantle the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) system of GP payments, reducing the bureaucratic burden on GPs: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Major-change-to-bureaucratic-system-of-GP-payments-1dd2.aspx
The First Minister announced in October that GP training places in Scotland would be increased from 300 to 400 from next year and schemes would be expanded to encourage GPs to return to practice: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/More-GPs-in-the-community-1eac.aspx