GP funding in Scotland to rise £250m per year by 2021, government reveals

GP funding in Scotland will rise £250m per year by 2021 with responsibility for vaccinations stripped from GMS contracts to ease practice workload, Scottish health secretary Shona Robison has announced.

GP funding will grow by £250m per year by 2021, with investment in general practice to increase by over £71m this year in 2017/18, Ms Robison revealed at the 2017 Scottish LMCs conference.

The additional funding for general practice is half of the £500m rise in overall funding for primary care announced last year by the Scottish government, and GP leaders have welcomed news that £250m of this will go directly into general practice.

The £71m GP investment for 2017/18 includes a 1% uplift for staff expenses and 3.5% uplift for other expenses through the GMS contract, depending on DDRB recommendations – in addition to a £60m investment in direct support on top.

GP providers

Speaking on Friday at the conference in Clydebank, near Glasgow, the health secretary said the Scottish government was committed to ‘reinvigorating’ general practice.

She also announced that Scotland will ‘move away’ from GPs being the preferred provider of vaccinations – without losing out on associated funding.

Ms Robison also announced that in 2017/18:

  • The GP recruitment and retention fund will increase five-fold, rising from £1m to £5m.
  • The pharmacist fund will increase from £7.8m to £12m.
  • An additional £2m funding will be made available to train nurse practitioners and practice nurses.
  • A further £200,000 will be invested to reimburse the increase in costs of completing GP appraisals.
  • The maximum sickness pay will be raised to £1,734.18 per week – putting it in line with maternity pay.

Scottish GPC chairman Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘We are delighted to have negotiated with the Scottish government that a substantial proportion of the additional investment into primary care will be spent in direct support of general practice. This will allow us to move forward in our negotiations to agree a sustainable future for general practice in Scotland.

GP funding

‘Throughout our negotiations we have been absolutely clear that a significant part of this funding must be in direct support of general practice so that we can negotiate how this will be spent to ensure it impacts specifically on the issues facing general practice.’

Ms Robison said that future GMS contracts will be ‘re-focused’ to help free up GP workloads, with vaccination programmes set to be removed as part of this.

‘You manage demand by expertly distinguishing what needs treatment and what needs explanation. You need the time to practice these core values – that’s why we’re focused on increasing multidisciplinary teams,’ she said.

‘To give you time we also need balance in the contract. One example of this is we’re starting a programme of work on how we deliver vaccinations. We will move away from GPs being the preferred provider – we need to find ways for other parts of the service to deliver this.

‘Be reassured the memorandum is clear – associated funding will stay in practices. We’re re-focusing the GMS so it can support GPs to do other things. This will take around three years to complete – it is complex and affects all people in Scotland.’

The GPC welcomed this announcement. Dr McDevitt said: ‘This is a very positive step in the right direction towards our shared vision of general practice.

‘Freeing up practice time by removing responsibility for immunisation programmes will give welcome relief to overloaded practice staff, allowing them to concentrate more on the needs of patients.’

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