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Scotland to prevent privatisation of GP practices

By Steve Nowottny

The Scottish Government is to bring in legislation preventing private companies from bidding for GP services.

Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond, setting out his plans for the coming year, said a new health bill would ‘help ensure the future of GP services in Scotland remains within the NHS family and firmly rooted in the traditions of general practice'.

The move comes as the latest sign of divergence in health policy between the devolved nations and England, where the Department of Health remains committed to greater private sector involvement.

In April a rare joint statement from the health ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reaffirmed their commitment to a public NHS, while the Welsh Assembly has gone one step further in announcing it intends to abolish the internal market altogether.

Dr Brian Keighley, deputy chair of BMA Scotland, said Mr Salmond's commitment was ‘very welcome and reflects the importance of general practice as the cornerstone of the NHS'.

‘General practice delivered under the auspices of the NHS will ensure that patient care comes before profit,' he said.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government confirmed the new bill would make it impossible for any private company to bid for GP services, and said legislation would be brought forward later this year.

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