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BMA hails 'historic' new GP contract

Scottish government says deal will cut bureaucracy and boost GP recruitment

Mark Gould

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Scottish government says that a new GP contract, negotiated with the BMA in Scotland, will cut workload and make it easier to run practices by boosting recruitment.

The BMA says the "historic agreement" aims to reduce workload pressures and re-establish general practice as an attractive career choice.

It provides for an expanded multi-disciplinary team to work with GP practices to provide direct access to services for patients, allowing GPs to concentrate on being expert medical generalists. The contract also makes provision for the transfer of some additional services, such as responsibility for delivering vaccinations, to health boards, without loss of funding.

GPs and GP trainees will be given the opportunity to have their say on the contract in a poll to take place in December. If GPs vote to approve the new contract, it will come into force in April next year.

The contract also includes:

  • A change to the funding formula and additional resources, so that practices with higher workloads are given more support but the income of every practice is protected
  • Funding to significantly reduce the risks to GP partners from providing their own premises making it easier to attract new partners
  • The groundwork for guaranteed GP income and direct reimbursement of expenses in the future.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee said: “Our aim in these negotiations has been to make general practice sustainable for the future. It was clear that significant change was required to address the increasing workload pressures that colleagues were facing.

“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.

“The additional funding attached to this contract is a significant investment and demonstrates the value placed on the role of general practice in the NHS in Scotland. The new contract offers income stability and reduced business risk to individuals.

“I hope that GPs across Scotland agree that this contract will make general practice fit for the future. We will be holding a poll of all GPs in Scotland from 7 December and I would encourage every GP in Scotland to take part and have their say.”

Health secretary Shona Robison, said: "GPs tell us they want to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, while patients say they want better access to GPs when they really need them. We have listened and, I believe, we have achieved that balance.

She added that the Scottish government was also investing in facilities that will offer more doctors the chance to enter the profession.

"We are confident that this contract best supports Scotland's primary healthcare needs while also making general practice an even more attractive employment prospect for doctors," she said.

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