RCGP Scotland manifesto demands investment to save general practice

An RCGP Scotland manifesto published ahead of the college's annual conference calls on politicians to set out plans to increase GP numbers, build the wider primary care workforce and invest to guarantee a sustainable future for the profession.

Dr Miles Mack

The document is an appeal to Scottish political leaders to set out a clear political strategy for building and maintaining general practice ahead of the 2016 Holyrood Scottish parliament elections.

The manifesto calls on politicians to commit to delivering an extra 740 GPs by 2020, with clear incentives and 'measurable targets along the way'.

It calls for 'ongoing, sustained increases in general practice' until it receives 11% of the total NHS Scotland budget, more primary care nurses and other staff, and a workforce plan that delivers enough GPs to allow each to spend more time with patients in longer consultations.

GP funding

RCGP Scotland said latest official data show the share of NHS funding now going to general practice in the country had dropped to 7.6% in 2013/14 - pointing out that if primary care funding would have been £223m higher in that year alone if the 9.8% share of NHS funding in 2006 had been maintained.

Speaking a day ahead of the college's 2015 annual conference in Glasgow, RCGP Scotland chairman Dr Miles Mack warned: 'Grassroots GPs have come to question if a political strategy exists for general practice in Scotland. Current trends, illustrated by these figures, represent a reduction in people’s access to GP services, a reduction evident across more than one parliamentary term. The Scottish government needs to act urgently to reassure GPs and the public.

'Even the small beginning to addressing the problems has stalled. In November of last year a primary care fund was announced. Its use lay undecided until it was eventually replaced with a new, lesser fund announced this June. Much of that, too, is now sitting fallow with decisions pending on its use. We were assured of urgent action on recruitment and retention of GPs. Despite June’s announcement we have little confirmed.

'The profession still does not know what definite actions will be taken. The time to act is now. The tipping point for general practice is fast approaching. If the Scottish government want a service to care for the people of Scotland then they must stop prevaricating and employ the shrinking funds available to at least plug the gaps in what is an increasingly threatened primary care service.'

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