GP leaders demand more detail on Scottish primary care workforce plan

GPs have called for more detail on Scottish workforce plans, as the government set out the next steps on proposals that include 800 extra GPs over the coming decade and investment in primary care.

GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt
GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt

In a report published on Monday, the Scottish government set out proposals for 'developing, building and expanding multidisciplinary teams, made up of professionals each contributing their unique skills to managing care and improving outcomes'.

The report says: 'To deliver this vision we have set out a series of ambitious commitments to significantly increase the primary care workforce, backed by a historic increase in invesment in primary care.'

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison told the Scottish LMCs conference in December 2017 that the proposed new GP contract - backed by a majority of GPs in Scotland earlier this year - would be supported with £100m in 2018.

Primary care funding

This funding is part of the £500m increase in primary care funding the Scottish government has promised to deliver by 2020/21 - £250m of which will be spend 'in direct support of general practice'.

The report published on Monday highlights plans for an extra 800 GPs by 2027 - a 16% increase on the current workforce. It also sets out plans for 2,600 extra nurse and midwife training places in 2018/19, plans to train 500 more advanced nurse practitioners by 2021 and investment to deliver more district nurses, improved practice nurse training, more health visitors, community paramedics, pharmacists and more.

Building the multidisciplinary primary care team is a key plank of the government's wider primary care policy and of the new Scottish GP contract.

The new contract proposed to help GPs in Scotland become ‘less involved’ with routine tasks, allowing them to take on more complex work, deal with undifferentiated presentations and fulfil a leadership role.

Workforce plan

Responding to the workforce report, GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt said: 'The workforce plan sets out six long-term objectives that it aims to deliver and we are supportive of these as they closely reflect the BMA’s vision for the future of primary care. However, we would like to see much more detail around how the additional workforce that is so desperately needed to sustain this vision will be delivered.

'The new GP contract is now being implemented across Scotland and it is essential that multidisciplinary teams are able to start developing their capacity and extend their roles as soon as possible to enable them to support practices effectively. I look forward to seeing the integrated update in September and would urge the Scottish government to be bold in its endeavour to make Scotland’s primary care workforce fit for the future.'

Ms Robison said: Scotland is leading the way on workforce planning and I am proud that we are the first nation in the UK to publish a plan that not only puts community care at its heart, but also helps prepare us for the expected challenges Brexit may bring for our workforce.'

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