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More GPs in the community

Published: 27 Oct 2015 10:46

Training places boosted by a third and more encouragement to return to practice.

The number of training places for GPs will increase from 300 to 400 a year from next year, contributing towards a more sustainable future GP workforce by 2019, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce today (Tuesday 27 October). The number of GPs working in Scotland has already increased under this administration's term in office, and this boost to training places will build on that.

Delivering the inaugural Health and Social Care Alliance lecture in Edinburgh, the First Minister will also confirm an expansion of the scheme that encourages trained GPs to return to practice following a career break as part of wider efforts to ensure effective health and social care integration by transforming primary care.

The First Minister will say:

"All of us know that effective primary care services will be crucial to the success of integration. Primary care is how most people experience the health service.

"That means that GPs should be at the heart of teams who will be able to meet a wide range of health needs. The future model of primary care is community health hubs – multidisciplinary teams of psychiatrists, paediatricians, pharmacists and other specialists as well as social care working with GPs to meet the needs of their communities. We are committed to expanding this model across the country as part of our transformation of primary care.

"That's why in June we provided an additional £60 million for transforming primary care – £20 million of that allows GPs to trial new ways of working, so that we can learn from successful initiatives in different parts of the country.

"We have also allocated £16 million to recruit 140 pharmacists who can work directly with GPs. It means that pharmacists with advanced clinical skills can support the care of patients with long term conditions – something which benefits those patients, while enabling GPs to spend more time with their other patients.

"But of course, this vision for GP-led services depends on us doing more to recruit and then retain general practitioners. So today I can confirm two important initiatives to help us achieve our ambitions for primary care.

"The first relates to retention. We know that in the last five years more than 250 people under the age of 50 have stopped being a GP. Often that will be for personal reasons – for example if they become parents, or carers themselves.

"Many of those GPs will become able to return to practice after a few years. So we will invest in a programme to increase the effectiveness of our existing GP returners' scheme. After all, training a GP costs approximately £500,000. It makes overwhelming sense to encourage people who have already been trained, and already have experience, back into practice.

"They can make a big difference – even by working on a part time basis, or providing out of hours cover. It's the quickest and most cost –effective way of increasing GP numbers, and it's beneficial for general practices and for patients.

The First Minister will continue:

"Our second initiative relates to initial training and recruitment. Currently we offer approximately 300 specialist GP training posts each year. People take up those posts after they've already done at least seven years of medical school and foundation training.

"We know that we'll need more students in the future. That's partly to meet a growing demand for services, and partly because of changing working patterns. People who graduate are increasingly likely to become part-time GPs rather than full-time ones.

"We're already doing more to encourage people to choose GP training – for example by increasing medical students' exposure to primary care when they are undergraduates.

"And I can confirm today a further important step. We are increasing the number of training places for GPs by 33 per cent – from 300 to 400.

"That change will take place next year, meaning that from 2019 onwards, we will begin to see additional GPs in the community. It's a major commitment towards ensuring that we have the skilled practitioners patients need, working in integrated services, delivering our vision for the health service of the future."

Notes to editors

The First Minister will deliver the inaugural Health and Social Care Alliance lecture in Edinburgh this evening. Further information on the Alliance is here - http://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/

An as delivered version of the First Minister's speech will be put online as soon as possible after the event here - http://news.scotland.gov.uk/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=139