Scottish government accused of “long-standing underfunding”

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The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland has warned the Scottish government that patients’ lives are at risk due to planned spending commitments.

In a consultation paper submitted to the Health and Sport Committee, the RCGP condemned plans for advanced nurse practitioners to be deployed as frontline care without GP supervision. The College added that there was “confusion” surrounding the government’s planned £500m spending on primary care.

The RCGP paper calls on the government to give exact details on how much would be spent on general practice before the end of the current parliament in four years’ time, after Health Secretary Shona Robinson said 11 per cent of the overall budget would be spent on health.

The College also states that there are 2,800 nursing vacancies, an insufficient number of pharmacists trained to work in general practice, and predicts a shortfall of 828 GPs across Scotland by 2021. 

It continued: “General practice is in severe need of a clear, positive future, illustrated by adequate government investment, if it is to attract sufficient numbers of medical graduates to general practice speciality training.

“If the long-standing underfunding and confusion continues we will keep witnessing a considerable number of general practices closing and transferring the running of their practices to health boards due to insufficient resource through which to remain solvent.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the First Minister announced last year, a further £500m will be invested in primary care by the end of this parliament.

“This spending increase in primary care, to 11 per cent of the frontline NHS budget, will support the development of a multi-disciplinary approach, with increased staffing as well as investment in GP services and health centres.

They added: “Shona Robinson recently set out that £250m of this new investment will be in direct support of general practice, helping to transform the way services are delivered in the community – an approach that was agreed with the British Medical Association.”