MSPs to vote on Greens’ bid to boost GP funding

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MSPs will vote on a call by the Scottish Greens for a funding boost for GPs to help tackle recruitment and retention problems.

The party’s parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone will lead a debate at Holyrood on Wednesday highlighting a drop in the number of GPs as demand is rising.

Ahead of the debate, she said resources are not being made available to cope with the envisaged shift to services in the community which is key to the Scottish Government’s integration of health and social care.

The number of whole time equivalent GPs has fallen by 160 (4%) since 2013, according to the 2017 Primary Care Workforce Survey.

Industry body the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) predicted a shortfall of 856 GPs by 2021 – which the Greens said would shift further work to under-pressure Accident and Emergency Departments.

Alison Johnstone
Green MSP Alison Johnstone will lead the debate (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

“It’s acknowledged that funding GPs is more cost effective than the alternative, which sees patients heading directly to A&E departments and increasing pressure on secondary care, but the Health Secretary seems reluctant to make the necessary investment which will, ultimately, pay for itself.

“The British Medical Association and RCGP have both called for 11% of the NHS budget to be allocated to GPs.

“This week I’ll bring a vote to parliament, urging ministers to ensure that adequate support is urgently made available.”

The Scottish Conservatives also want 11% of the NHS spending to go to GPs, to improve recruitment, retention and working conditions.

The party’s health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Under the SNP local GP surgeries have been starved of resources.

“Since 2012 GP funding in Scotland has not kept up with funding in England. Had Nicola Sturgeon fairly funded Scotland’s GPs they would have had £658 million more today.

“It is little wonder GP practices are closing across the country as they are unable to cope with the growing financial pressures they face and an SNP government which is ignoring the needs of rural GPs.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats have been calling for more support for GPs for some time.

“With the number of practices reporting vacancies going through the roof, the Government need to act to keep staffing levels sustainable.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have a record number of GPs working in Scotland, and we are committed to further increasing numbers by at least 800 in the next 10 years.

“The new GP contract, which was agreed with the BMA and GPs, is backed by £110 million this year and ensures GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, making a career in general practice even more attractive to younger doctors.
“The number of doctors in training has increased by more than 10% since 2007, and by 2020/21 we will have increased medical schools places by 22%, equivalent to an extra 190 places.”

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