Scotland's £40m general practice funding pledge 'not enough'

GP leaders have backed a Scottish government pledge to invest £40m in general practice to tackle health inequalities in deprived and rural areas, but warned more funding will be needed.

Dr Alan McDevitt: warning over primary care development fund (Photo: Douglas Robertson)

The announcement follows warnings from GP leaders that general practice in Scotland faces a 2.2% real-terms funding cut in 2015/16.

The £40m ‘primary care development fund’ will be used at a local and national level to provide services that can ‘better support the changing demographics of the Scottish population’, according to Scottish health secretary Alex Neil.

The funding will be directed to primary care services facing particular pressures, such as those with rural or island communities and above average numbers of elderly patients.

Mr Neil added that the funding boost elevated Scotland’s investment into GP services to ‘record levels’, despite ‘substantial Westminster cuts to Scotland’s budget’.

He said: ‘GPs and primary care professionals will be vital to ensuring that health and social care are effectively integrated from April next year, and this new investment will help them design and implement primary care services that best meet the needs of their communities.

Scottish GPs empowered

‘GPs will be empowered to develop initiatives that address challenges in workload, tackle health inequalities in deprived and rural areas, and meet the changing needs of the people of Scotland.’

Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the Scottish GPC, welcomed the increase in funding, but warned that further, ‘significant’ funding would be required to continue to support GP services in the future.

He said: ‘Over the past decade, investment in general practice has stagnated and the GP workforce is facing increasing pressure to meet this rising demand without any significant investment in the capacity or resources for general practice.  It is therefore welcome that the Scottish government now recognises there is a problem and has plans for a development fund for GP and primary care services.

‘The BMA is more than willing to work with the Scottish government to explore how best we transform Scottish general practice to meet the demands of the future, but it will require significant investment beyond that announced today.’

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