Scottish government unveils £20m GP funding package

Scottish practices will receive a 1.5% funding uplift to cover expenses in 2016/17, worth £5.25m, on top of a 1% pay rise.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison

Scotland's health secretary announced the uplift as part of a £20m package of measures to support general practice, unveiled at the Scottish LMCs conference in Clydebank.

Health secretary Shona Robison told the conference the government would also create a single national performers’ list for GPs to be implemented as soon as practicable.

A £10.98m contract uplift for 2016/17 will deliver a 1% pay rise plus 1.5% for expenses. The uplift also includes £2.6m to fund population growth.

General practice funding

An additional £5m will pay for a GP from every practice in Scotland to take part in fortnightly sessions on cluster working to develop their role in quality and leadership.

An extra £2m will fund an upgrade in IT infrastructure for practices to upgrade their computers or tablets. Ms Robison said this was on top of the previously announced £4m fund for IT.

A £2m care package will fund the development of new options for more effective occupation health services for staff in primary care, a new statutory backfill rate of £1,686.45 for maternity, paternity and adoption leave. The care package will also cover a service to provide every practice with oxygen cylinders for emergencies.

Ms Robison told LMC leaders that there was ‘no QOF mark two in the pipeline’ for the new contract being developed for 2017. There would be ‘no other box ticking alternative proposed’, she said.

The government needed to work to ‘change the culture of demand’ and help reduce GP workload, the health secretary said. Health department officials would work with SGPC to ‘identify workable solutions or your workload pressures in the short term’ to provide the next government with recommendations early in the next parliament.

Primary care development

The government said the £20m announced today was over and above an established commitment to invest £85m across primary care over three years to test new models of delivering services, a transformation fund and support delivery of the national review of out of hours services.

Ms Robison said the government was committed to a plan to adequately fund general practice and invest in its vision to transform primary care, as well as a workforce and infrastructure plan.

The minister said: I hope that what I have said today demonstrates the commitment of my government to supporting  and enabling general practice to flourish.

‘The negotiations for the 207 contract will get underway over the next few weeks.

‘I believe we can work together to build a bright future for general practice and hope that we can continue to work collaboratively for the good of GPs, the profession of general practice, and above all for the patients and people of Scotland.’

SGPC chairman Dr Alan McDevitt welcomed the package announcement from the health secretary. Both SGPC and the government recognised this £20m was not about resolving the long term substantive funding of the service, he said, but addressing some important, immediate issues.

‘Many things may seem small, but they mean a lot’ to practices, said Dr McDevitt.

The announcement of a new backfill payments scheme for parental leave was a ‘huge step forward’, he said. The single performers list and oxygen service were ‘very welcome’, and the new occupational health service was ‘a huge thing for us’.

But Dr McDevitt warned that there were ‘practices in every part of Scotland at risk now’ of closure which were ‘in great need of support to maintain a service’, and discussions with the government on addressing those issues would continue.

Dr McDevitt said he hoped the review of workload measures announced by Ms Robison could address the issue of practices having to make referrals to hospital after missed appointments, an issue the UK government has said it will address for English practices.

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