The BMA has revealed that GP surgeries in Scotland can now apply for a practice sustainability loan
The application process for GP practice sustainability loans has now opened, which aims to reduce the risks associated with being GP partners in Scotland.
This will allow GP contractors to apply for an interest-free loan of up to 20% of the value of their premises.
The move was agreed as part of the new Scottish GP contract which was created to reduce risks and improve GP recruitment and retention.
The Scottish Government is funding the scheme – pouring £30m into it over the next three years – with loans being guaranteed by local health boards. The deadline for the first round is 12 December 2018; there will be further opportunities to apply in 2019.
Secretary for health, Jeane Freeman, said: “We recognise that practice premises are sometimes seen as an unwanted liability by potential GP partners, and this has an impact on recruitment and retention.
“These interest-free secure loans will help reduce the risk of premises ownership and support a move towards GP contractors no longer being required to provide their premises.”
BMA Scottish GPs committee chair, Andrew Buist, said that the loans will help make general practice sustainable for the future.
“These loans will reduce the financial burden new partners must take on to buy into partnership and, over the longer-term, start the journey towards a system where GPs will no longer be expected to provide their own premises,” he said.
“For practices that own their own buildings, this is one of the major benefits of the new GP contract and has been widely acknowledged as such by GPs across Scotland.”
Loans will be prioritised by need. Freeman continued: “This action sits alongside our new GP contract, which is supported by investment of £110m this year and ensures GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, and will help cut doctors’ workload.”
Loans will only be repaid when the premises are no longer used by the GP contractor for providing primary medical services.