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Scots move to ban firms from running GP practices

The Scottish Government has unveiled plans to bar private firms from running GP practices, with ministers arguing that the move will maintain patients' confidence in GP services.

The proposals, launched for consultation yesterday, would involve amending existing legislation to block commercial companies from running frontline GP services.

If accepted, the change would sharpen the divide between GP services north and south of the border, with the English Government continuing to court the involvement of the commercial sector.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move had been bought about by a wish to ensure that general practice remained in the hands of those ‘with a direct interest in patients'.

She said: ‘It's crucial that everyone who uses the health service in Scotland has confidence in the advice and treatment they are offered.

‘I believe that commercial companies, where shareholders may not be part of or have a direct interest in the NHS, should not be used to provide such vital frontline services.

She added: ‘The law currently allows commercial companies to provide GP services. Although this has not yet happened in Scotland, I believe we should act now to ensure GP services continue to be provided by the traditional model where the owners of the practice are directly involved in running the practice as well as treating patients.'

The proposals are expected to form part of the forthcoming Health Bill in Scotland.

The BMA has backed the move. Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the Scottish GPC, said: ‘The measures proposed by the Government in this consultation seek to protect NHS general practice and are very welcome and I am pleased that the Health Secretary recognises 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 and patients can be assured of continuity of care.'

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of the Scottish GPC, has backed the plans to bar private firms from running practices Dr Dean Marshall, chair of the Scottish GPC, has backed the plans to bar private firms from running practices

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