The first Scotland-only GP contract has won strong backing from the profession and will now be implemented
The BMA Scottish GPs committee took the decision to accept the contract after more than seven out of 10 of GPs who took part in a poll voted in favour.
SGPC council chair Alan McDevitt said the contract would be good for GPs and good for patients.
“I truly believe that this contract offers stability and security of funding for practices in Scotland and will help to reduce the pressures of GP workload and improve GP recruitment and retention.
“The decision to proceed with implementation of this new contract reflects the high level of support for the contract shown in the poll of the profession and the views fed back through local medical committees,” Dr McDevitt said.
The contract heralds a new way of working where the GP is the expert medical generalist at the centre of an expanded primary care team.
Direct referral to professionals such as physiotherapists should free GPs up to see patients in most need. The contract also aims to cut bureaucracy, while a new allocation formula aims to reward practices for the work they do, while guaranteeing income for all practices.
Some GPs in rural areas have opposed the contract, saying that it does not recognise specific pressures of working in remote and rural areas.
But Dr McDevitt said: “We have heard the concerns that they have raised with us, particularly around how additional services and health professionals will be provided in rural areas and their concerns about the income and expenses guarantee.
“A short life working group tasked with providing solutions so that the contract is delivered in a way that works well for rural areas will be established, which will also look for further ways in which rural general practice can be supported.”
Dr McDevitt said the contract offered something to practices in every part of Scotland.
“I hope that young doctors will be encouraged by the direction we are going in to choose a career in general practice.
“I am delighted that the profession has backed this contract and we can now move forward to implementing the changes that general practice in Scotland need.”
Royal College of GPs Scotland chair Carey Lunan said it was clear that the profession had voted to accept a new direction of travel for general practice.
“Over the next three years as the changes contained within this new contract are embedded, The Royal College of GPs Scotland will seek to work collaboratively with the BMA, Scottish government and colleagues across primary care to ensure that the views of the profession are heard,” she said.
Health secretary Shona Robison welcomed the decision, saying that the contract, jointly negotiated between the Scottish Government and the BMA, would bring the biggest reform in GP services in more than a decade.
“GPs are an integral and crucial part of our health service. This new contract, which is a historic joint agreement between the Scottish government and the BMA, will ensure that GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy.
“It will cut doctors’ overall workload and make general practice an even more attractive career prospect.
“We’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with the British Medical Association to develop this contract, and the fact it has the support of the members means I am confident it is the very best deal for GPs right across the country as well as for patients themselves.”
Just under four in ten of GPs took part in the contract poll; GP partners, salaried GPs, trainees and others backed it in very similar proportions.
Scottish GP contract – what happens now?
Work to bring in phase one of the new Scotland-only contract begins now, with the aim of implementing it from April of this year.
The aim is to use information gathered during implementation of phase one to develop a second phase, which would continue work to reduce the financial risk of being a GP.
Any changes negotiated for phase two would also be put to the profession before any agreement to go ahead.