GP services in Scotland need 'redesign' to tackle inequalities

General practice in deprived areas of Scotland could be redesigned to address health inequalities, according to Scotland's chief medical officer (CMO) Harry Burns.

Dr Burns: We have to be open to the idea that we redesign the support that exists in the 100 most deprived practices
Dr Burns: We have to be open to the idea that we redesign the support that exists in the 100 most deprived practices

Dr Burns told delegates at the RCGP's conference that practices working in areas of inequality were of high quality, but new ways were needed to address social problems that led to poor health.

Focussing on children and the parenting they receive was an essential component of addressing problems in later life, he said.

‘Health inequalities are now explicable in terms of biological consequences in terms of environment. This biological paradigm has encouraged us to try intervening in new ways,' said Dr Burns.

Primary care would be the cornerstone in how new interventions would be delivered, he said.

But GPs would not be delivering them to children themselves. Instead they would be flagging up the patients on which to focus and this may require changes in general practice.

‘We have to be open to the idea that we redesign the support that exists in the 100 most deprived practices. We will do that jointly with you,' said Dr Burns.

Dr Burns said that Scotland's primary care arrangements meant that changes could take place more easily than in other nations.

‘We have evolved a more sensible system in Scotland that allows us to adjust processes to meet the challenges,' he said. ‘We're not going to get foreign companies to tell us how to do this.'

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