3. Increasing the Primary Care Workforce
GP Recruitment and Retention Fund
3.1 We recognise that general practice is facing unprecedented challenges through increased workload; increased risk relating to staff and premises; and in recruitment and retention of new and existing GPs. Our efforts are focussed on positive change in general practice in Scotland that addresses these challenges in the here and now and helps us achieve our long term Vision.
3.2 The GP Recruitment and Retention Fund is important here. To expand activity to increase GP recruitment and retention, the Cabinet Secretary announced that the Recruitment and Retention Fund will receive a five-fold increase in funding from £1m in 2016/17 to £5m in 2017/18. This increase will:
- fund GP training bursaries;
- help us expand the GP Returners Scheme; and
- increase the GP Retainer reimbursement rate from £59.18 per session to £76.92 per session.
3.3 The additional funding will be delivered as part of the £60 million in direct support of General Practice in 2017/18. A revised Statement of Financial Entitlements ( SFE) will be published in summer 2017 to show the increased reimbursement rate for the GP Retainer scheme which will be backdated to the beginning of the financial year.
3.4 In November we restated our goal of extending the multi-disciplinary team approach to include other health professionals and deliver the manifesto commitment of providing pharmacy support for every practice in Scotland.
3.5 We have already started this work with the GP Pharmacy Fund. Beginning with pharmacy is deliberate because GPs tell us the greatest initial impact on GP workload will be made by increasing the provision of pharmacy professionals within practices.
3.6 Already 120 whole time equivalent pharmacists have been appointed to posts with one third of GP practices across Scotland now having direct pharmacist support. The initial results are promising. The sixteen practices in our Inverclyde test of change have been receiving additional prescribing support since last summer.
3.7 GP workload on the relevant activities such as Medications Reviews, Medicines Reconciliation following discharge from hospital, ad-hoc Outpatients Requests; management of acute and repeat prescriptions and other medication related issues - has decreased by 50% over this period.
3.8 Replicating this at a national scale will make a real difference to GP workload, improve practice stability and ultimately improve patient choice and care. To achieve this ambition we will expand the GP Pharmacy fund from £7.8 million in 2016 to £12 million in 2017. This will go towards funding more pharmacists to work in more practices and reduce GP workload and improve patient care.
General Practice Nurses
3.9 Along with Pharmacy, our nursing and allied health professionals are crucial to successful multi-disciplinary teams. General practice nurses are core to these teams and critical to good patient care. We will invest £2 million in 2017 in training for general practice nurses.
Practice Managers and other non-clinical staff
3.10 We also recognise the important role of Practices Managers and other practice non-clinical staff such as practice receptionists in the support of patients, GPs and the operation of General Practice. Their role and skills will be crucial in supporting the development of new models of primary care and the changing role of General Practice in the future. Therefore we can also announce a £500,000 investment to develop their skills.
GP Workforce Survey
3.11 We are also delivering our joint commitment to improving our workforce planning. The consultation to inform the draft plan has now closed and we are grateful to all of those in the health and social care workforce, as well as wider stakeholders, who shared their perspectives and evidence. Those contributions will inform the final version of the plan which will be published this year.
3.12 To deliver better workforce planning we need better data and the Primary Care Workforce Survey is a key source of crucial information. However we know that completing this survey takes GPs away from treating patients, and very often falls to practice manager colleagues. In recognition of this we have agreed that the Scottish Government will introduce a payment of £150 to reimburse a practice for the return of workforce data in this year's workforce survey. Practices will be able to claim the payment from boards on completion of the workforce survey.
Email: Joseph McKeown
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House