BMA Scotland manifesto calls for practices to form 'GP clusters'

Scotland should develop 'GP cluster groups' to involve every practice in the country in leading NHS reforms, the BMA has demanded ahead of the 2016 Scottish parliament election.

BMA Scotland chairman Dr Peter Bennie

GPs need to be in a ‘position of influence’ to ensure plans to overhaul the way the Scottish care system is organised are a success, BMA Scotland said in its 2016 election manifesto.

It also called on the Scottish government to ensure that ‘additional resources and capacity’ are put into general practice to help the profession cope with the influx of workload from hospitals and rising demand driven by an ageing population.

General practice has reached ‘saturation point’, it warned, and it will be ‘impossible’ for the profession to respond without investment.

The manifesto backed GP cluster groups in every area of Scotland, working closely with LMCs. It added: 'Integrated joints boards should provide practical (administrative) support and sufficient financial assistance to allow at least one GP from every GP practice to participate.

GP cluster groups

‘In simple terms, we believe that GPs need to be in a position of influence, working to help make health and social care organisations, and the services they provide to patients, a success.’

The BMA said it was working with the Scottish government on the new GP contract, due in April 2017, to ensure that general practice was ‘once again an attractive career option’.

It urged political parties to support Scottish general practice to focus on 'patients with the most complex care needs’ by ensuring patients have access to a range of healthcare professionals to deal with those who have simpler needs.

The manifesto says GPs can meet the challenges of demographic change only with 'sweeping change to the structure of the contract' and their role and responsibilities. Scottish GP leaders are in talks with the government over radical reforms that will 'move on from the QOF' and bring further changes to how GPs sit within wider primary care teams.

The manifesto adds: ‘BMA Scotland is proposing a revised role for the GP from 2017, where GPs as senior clinical decision makers will focus on complex care in the community, undifferentiated presentations, and whole system activity, such as quality improvement and clinical leadership teams.

‘We want to build and support the practice based primary care team to ensure that patients have access to a range of services and to allow GPs to focus their time on those patients with the most complex care needs.

Scottish GPs

‘This is an opportunity to make general practice a more attractive career option for doctors in the longer-term.’

BMA Scotland chairman Dr Peter Bennie said: ‘This is a critical juncture for the NHS in Scotland and it is vital that there is an open and honest debate about its future direction at the coming election.

‘The pace with which demand on the NHS is increasing is outstripping resources and making the current way we deliver health services unsustainable. To close the gap there needs to be significantly increased investment.

‘Any party which cannot commit to closing the funding gap needs to be honest with voters and set out what range and models of health services it plans to provide using currently planned resources.

‘It is essential that politicians of all parties recognise the pressures the NHS is under and set out realistic and honest plans for how they will address these issues.’

Read the BMA Scotland manifesto

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