Scottish patients back calls to increase GP funding

The vast majority of people in Scotland believe that general practice needs more funding, an RCGP Scotland poll has found.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack (Photo: Pete Hill)
RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack (Photo: Pete Hill)

The poll of 1,022 Scots also found that most patients value continuity of care and would rather see the same GP each time they attend their practice. The majority would also like to see a GP when first making an appointment rather than another healthcare professional.

Some 88% of people responding to the poll, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of RCGP Scotland, said they supported the college’s campaign for more funding for general practice and only 4% opposed this.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) said it was important to see the same GP each time they attended the surgery if possible. When viewed as part of the wider general practice team, 79% of Scots said it was the GP that can be trusted most to help meet their healthcare needs. In addition, 63% of patients said they wanted to see a GP first when making an appointment, rather than being asked to see other members of the primary care team.

Funding increase

Last year Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that general practice funding would rise to 11% of the NHS budget by 2021. While the RCGP has welcomed this step it has also called for action to recruit more GPs in Scotland. There is a projected deficit of 828 whole-time equivalent GPs in Scotland, by 2021

Other findings from the poll included:

  • 69% of respondents agreed their GP was the best person to guide them through the healthcare system.
  • 85% agreed on the importance of their GP being able to help look after them as a whole person, not just treating a condition.
  • 74% thought the GP knowing about their wider personal circumstances in life was helpful.
  • 84% thought that GPs' knowledge of a patient’s medical history was helpful.

Dr Miles Mack, chair of RCGP Scotland, said: ‘It’s hugely encouraging to see the high value that patients place on the expert, generalist care that they receive from their GPs. These findings reinforce our long-standing belief that patients see the positive impact having their GP at the centre of their healthcare has on their health and on their experience of the healthcare system. 

‘GPs are uniquely placed to deliver care others cannot offer and they are best placed within the healthcare system as the first port of call for their patients’ needs.  

‘GPs hugely value the work of our multi-disciplinary team members, but no other professional within our teams can or should be used as a replacement for general practitioners. This survey sends a clear message that patients want their GP to remain central to their care as the NHS develops.

‘RCGP Scotland is clear that the doctor-patient relationship must be protected and promoted in any changes to primary health care. We have also been clear that, in order to protect and improve the service provided to our patients, spending on general practice services must be increased to 11% of NHS Scotland’s budget.’

Full coverage of the RCGP annual conference 2017

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