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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Salaried scheme adds to inequality

A salaried GP scheme in Scotland may be exacerbating inequalities between practices, research has concluded.

A study into the effects of the 'paragraph 52' salaried payment, whereby practices can claim 85-100 per cent reimbursement for hiring a salaried GP, found those using it were mainly large, ex-fundholding, training practices and tended to already be high achievers.

The scheme benefited them further by allowing partners to pursue practice development.

The researchers questioned health boards' assertions that paragraph 52 GPs would not 'just be a cheap pair of hands'.

Author Professor Tony Scott, formerly of the University of Aberdeen and now fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Australia, said: 'It might be a problem for inequalities if already well-performing practices in affluent areas were given a salaried GP when population need might be less.'

The research was published in Primary Health Care Research and Development (April).

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