Scotland to tackle GP workforce deficit

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The Scottish government has proposed a new contract to reduce GP workload and increase recruitment within the sector.

If proposals go forward as planned, GPs in Scotland will work under different conditions to those in the rest of the UK.

The development of the contract follows negotiations between the Scottish government and the British Medical Association’s Scottish GPs Committee (BMA SGPC).

The contractual changes have been proposed to tackle increasing workloads and low retention rates within general practice. Furthermore, the proposals will enable the expansion of multidisciplinary teams across the health service to improve accessibility for patients and help GPs focus on general medicine.

Under the new contract, the income of each practice would be protected/agreed, and funding changes would be made to enable the provision of additional resources for surgeries.

Alan McDevitt, Chair of BMA SGPC, said: ‘Practices have been struggling to recruit to vacant positions and we have started to see this impact on patient care, with some practices closing their patient lists, handing back responsibility to the health board or in extreme cases having to close altogether.

‘This contract offers solutions to the pressures faced by general practice. By expanding the primary care team and working with integration authorities to improve patient access to services delivered by other professionals, such as, practice nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists, GPs can have more time to concentrate on being GPs.’

Mr McDevitt went on to emphasize that ‘significant’ changes had to be made to improve the long-term sustainability of general practice.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robinson, commented: ‘These changes, agreed jointly with the BMA, will give patients the right care in the right place. Patient safety is at the very heart of this agreement and is the central principle guiding how changes will be implemented.’

If GPs in Scotland vote in favour of the new contract, it will come into action in April 2018.