Scotland may lack GP workforce for breakaway contract from 2017, LMCs warn

Scotland may not have enough GPs to implement the breakaway GMS contract planned for 2017, LMCs will warn next week.

A new Scottish GP contract - the first to be negotiated separately from the UK-wide GMS deal - is set for implementation in April 2017.

The contract looks set to push general practice in Scotland to adopt new models of care including a more multidisciplinary team approach. But a motion put forward for debate by Forth Valley LMC warns that GPs are concerned the workforce may not be available to implement the new model.

Motions for debate at the conference show concerns remain about the future of general practice despite the new deal due next year.

GP contract

One motion backs efforts to secure a contract deal, but warns that proposed changes will not free up GP time, will fail to address the 'continuous transfer of work to general practice' and that practices facing a workload and workforce crisis will be unable to deliver transitional work in 2016.

A motion put forward by Lothian LMC for debate at the 2016 Scottish LMCs conference in Clydebank, near Glasgow, calls on the government to 'stop driving general practice to the inevitable outcome of a universal (and potentially more expensive) salaried service by ongoing erosion of our infrastructure, resource and morale'. The motion has not been prioritised for debate but could be discussed if time allows.

LMCs will demand more support for locum GPs, and recognition that this group is a growing part of the general practice workforce. They will also highlight concerns over the shortage of doctors applying for GP training posts and warn of a looming workforce crisis.

The conference could also debate calls to charge patients who miss appointments and to scrap free prescriptions.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: 'The Scottish government is committed to supporting and enhancing primary care and the work of GPs. Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of the population of the four UK countries and under this government the number of GPs working in Scotland has increased. In December, Scotland became the first country in the UK to agree to completely abolish the existing bureaucratic  and burdensome GP payments system, freeing up GPs to spend more time with patients – a decision first announced at the RCGP conference in October, which was strongly welcomed by the RCGP.

'Funding for GP services has increased each year under this government, rising from £704.61 million in 2007/8 to £852.6m in 2014/15. The new £45m primary care fund in the 2016/17 draft budget equates to an increase for primary care of over 6% above the investment in the GP contract from the Scottish government.

'We are transforming primary care, including developing new ways of working with multi-disciplinary teams both in and out of hours that elevate the role of GPs as medical experts in the community. To support the transformation, £4.75m is being invested in GP recruitment and retention, leadership and research including £2.5m to examine and take forward proposals to increase the number of medical students choosing to go into GP training, as well as encouraging those wanting to work in rural and economically deprived areas.  We are expanding schemes to encourage trained GPs to return to practice in the NHS, and increasing the number of training places for GPs by 33% - from 300 to 400.'

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