The current 2014/15 Scottish GP contract will now roll over, unchanged, for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years, with a new contract not being introduced until April 2017.
The changes, agreed following negotiations between GP leaders and the Scottish government, will offer practices in Scotland greater stability and allow them to better 'maintain services’ and ‘plan for the future needs of their patients’, the SGPC said.
Previously, as is still the case for the other UK contracts, Scottish contracts were renegotiated annually, forcing GPs to ‘deal with the additional workload of adapting to changes each year’.
This means all agreements – including the QOF and enhanced services – will remain the same as part of the three-year deal, although the SGPC confirmed that changes to the QOF could be considered ‘in light of guidance from NICE or relevant others’ to ensure practices were not tied to outdated clinical methods.
Yearly negotiations on pay uplifts will remain in place as the agreement will still be linked to advice from the independent Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB).
More time to focus on patients
Scottish GPC chairman Dr Alan McDevitt said the change could save Scottish practices from the ‘brink of crisis’.
He said: ‘This agreement is the culmination of ongoing negotiations that we began last year. In November 2013, we began the process of reducing bureaucracy and creating financial stability for general practice to enable GPs to spend less time ticking boxes and more time focusing on the patient in the consultation.
‘Scottish general practice is on the brink of crisis. Having time to focus on finding solutions to the pressures of rising workload and the problems of recruitment and retention will enable us to protect and support the model of general practice that is so valued by our patients.’
The agreement also highlighted strengthening the infrastructure of general practice; meeting the needs of deprived, remote and rural communities; and caring for elderly patients with multimorbidities as key priorities for the April 2017 contract.