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Record number of practices in Scotland hand back contracts

Proportion of patients registered with 2c practices doubles to hit record high of over 160,000

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Scotland has seen a record high in the number of practices that have returned their contracts to health boards, affecting thousands of patients, the Royal College of GPs has revealed.

The latest figures show that in 2016 there were 52 ‘2c’ practices in Scotland – a 2c practice being one that has returned its contract to the health board because it believed it was unable to meet its obligations – which is a higher number than in any previous year on record.

In 2007, there were 83,290 patients registered with 2c practices (1.5% of patients), but over the past decade this figure has nearly doubled. The soaring number of practices handing back their contracts means that a record total of more than 160,000 patients (2.8%) of patients in Scotland are now affected by being registered with a 2c practice.

RCGP Scotland chair, Dingwall GP Dr Miles Mack, said: “Right across Scotland, GP practices are being forced to close their doors or hand their contracts back to health boards. RCGP is particularly concerned over the impact that changing to 2c has on patient care and on lost value for money in healthcare services. In particular, it means that GPs are no longer in a leadership role and there is less continuity of care for patients.”

He called for urgent action to remedy the situation, particularly the predicted decline in the workforce. He said: “Patients’ GP services have been the target of disinvestment for over a decade, falling from 9.8% of NHS Scotland’s spending in 2005/06 to just 7.2% in 2015/16, the last year we have figures for. Sufficient action must be taken to fill the projected shortfall of 856 GPs across Scotland by 2021. To fund that appropriately we need 11% of NHS Scotland’s budget to go to general practice services. The Scottish government’s own Govan SHIP project has shown how much patients can benefit through such measures. Funding for wider primary care, already at 23% of NHS Scotland’s budget, also could be increased.”

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