Scottish LMCs warn government must shift investment to primary care

Scottish LMCs have demanded urgent government investment in primary care, warning that any new funding is being absorbed by hospitals while practice income falls.

The annual Scottish LMCs conference in Clydebank backed a motion expressing concern that the vast majority of NHS funding in Scotland had been absorbed into hospitals and acute services while GP funding had decreased.

The motion, proposed by Glasgow LMC, called for GPC Scotland to work with the Scottish government to direct any new investment to funding general practice and primary care services.

Dr Ronnie Burns from Glasgow LMC said that when a hospital is in crisis ‘we get a fanfare on the news, a special measures hit squad, and more money. But when a GP practice is under strength, missing targets, we lose funding.’

GP funding

GPs' share of NHS funding had fallen 18% since 2006, said Dr Burns, against a background of overall increasing NHS funding, equal to a 9% decrease in real-terms funding.

Dr Gerald Burnett from Fife LMC called for a £20 per patient funding increase for all practices, which would cost a total of £100m for all of Scotland, or less than 1% of total NHS spending.

‘It would enable practice to retreat from the edge,’ he said. Practices had been handing back contracts across the country, he told the conference.

GPC Scotland chairman Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘We need more funding and we need more staff. Until we have that there is not a lot else to say.’

In his speech to the conference earlier in the day, Dr McDevitt warned that practices would increasingly go under in Scotland unless an urgent financial bailout materialised.

Analysis of last month’s Scottish budget by the RCGP suggested general practice's share of NHS funding would fall again next year. The college is calling for 11% of NHS funding to go to primary care.

Scottish GP contract

The conference also backed a motion calling for a breakaway Scottish GP contract being negotiated for 2017 to protect historical funding streams including enhanced services and for funding streams to be uplifted appropriately every year.

Some GPs expressed concern that protecting historical funding streams could perpetuate or entrench existing inequalities between practices. One GP said historical funding was ‘completely unfair’ and ‘should be got rid of’.

But Dr Alistair Taylor of Glasgow LMC, proposing the motion, reassured the conference that the intention was to protect only the totality of historical GP funding rather than practices’ individual streams.

LMCs also called for for the Scottish allocation formula to account for rising workload, be weighted to account for care home provision and ensure rural and remote practices are properly remunerated.

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