Interview: More GPs needed, says new GPC Scotland leader

Dr Alan McDevitt explains his stance on 'tartanising' the GMS contract and discusses his priorities.

Dr Alan McDevitt: GPs want to take on more but are saturated
Dr Alan McDevitt: GPs want to take on more but are saturated

GPC Scotland's new chairman is sceptical about 'tartanising' the GP contract to make it more relevant for Scottish practices.

Clydebank GP Dr Alan McDevitt took over as chairman of GPC Scotland last month, replacing Dr Dean Marshall, now a negotiator on the UK GPC.

Speaking to GP magazine shortly after taking up the GPC Scotland post, Dr McDevitt warned that any changes to the GP contract need to be evidence based.

His main aim is to stabilise general practice and to increase capacity, he says, warning that this would need an investment in premises and the workforce.

'I would like to improve the capacity of general practice,' Dr McDevitt says. 'We do want to take on more but we are saturated. We want to be able to achieve more for our patients.

'Premises are a critical issue in Scotland. We have premises that are not fit for purpose. The government has set up a working group to look at premises and we have supported that.'

Dr McDevitt says he is not in favour of an independent Scottish contract and any changes to the QOF for Scotland's GPs needed to be evidence based.

However, the Scottish government has begun looking at how it can 'tartanise' the UK contract for Scotland. Scottish LMCs backed the move at their annual conference in Clydebank, near Glasgow, in March.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon addressed the conference for the second year running, backing a more Scotland-focused deal.

The new chairman says public health elements of the QOF could be different in Scotland, but was sceptical about the possible change. 'I think QOF is applicable across the whole UK,' he says. 'If it is evidence based, there is room for discussion.'

Dr McDevitt says: 'The government has a number of areas to look at and we are starting those discussions now. We are happy to discuss these. Within the confines of what it is proposing to look at, we are comfortable with that.'

On Scotland's public health challenges, he said: 'We have a problem of capacity. GPs need a lot of time to talk to patients about these issues. It is about additional resources, which can be people, staff or nurses.

'There is an argument that you need more doctors in deprived areas. In Scotland, we have a very even spread of doctors per head of population, but in deprived areas, doctors need longer. I would like an hour with patients but it is more realistic to aim for 15 minutes. Most people allow for 10-minute consultations, but I consult for longer and put a few spaces in my surgery.'

Blairgowrie GP Dr Andrew Buist was re-elected as deputy leader of GPC Scotland last month and will work with Dr McDevitt in negotiations with the Scottish government and at a UK level with the DH.

Dr Colette Maule, a GP in Lanarkshire, has been elected as GPC Scotland's third negotiator.

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