New GMS improved care in Scotland but overspent by £160 million

The new GMS contract was £160 million over budget in Scotland, but has improved patient care, according to a review by auditors.

The Review of the new General Medical Services contract, published today by Audit Scotland, says that the new contract has brought benefits for patients, GPs and the wider NHS.

The working lives and income of GPs has improved and patients with long-term conditions are better monitored than in 2003, said the report.

The review is more positive than the National Audit Office's recent review of the GMS contract, which accused GP partners of taking more practice profit for doing less work.

The quality framework and MPIG meant the cost of general medical services rose by 40 per cent from 2003/4 to 2006/7, costing £160 million more than expected. Money was taken from NHS boards' budgets, said the report.

But auditor general for Scotland, Robert Black, said: ‘The new contract is an opportunity to improve both patient care and the working lives of GPs, and give the NHS greater flexibility. There are early signs that the contract has addressed GP concerns about pay and work life balance, and has improved services for some patients.'

Theresa Fyffe, director of RCN Scotland, said: ‘The growing role of nurses in delivering healthcare in GP practices is reflected by the fact that the overall number of consultations carried out by practice nurses increased by over 11 per cent between 2003/4 and 2006/7.'

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

Audit Scotland

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