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Ballot on Scottish GP contract opens

A poll for GPs in Scotland to vote on the proposed new contract is now open.

All GPs and GP trainees have until 4 January to have their say on the deal, which includes measures to reduce workload and protect partners from risk.

The BMA predicts that almost two thirds of GP practices would see their overall funding increase under a new funding formula and there will be a minimum earnings expectation to ensure no GP partner earns less than £80,430.

But there has been opposition to the plans, especially from rural GPs.

GPs are voting on phase one of the plans which includes a commitment that no GP will own their own premises by 2043.

It places the GP as the expert medical generalist at the head of a multi-disciplinary team of pharmacists, nurses and physiotherapists.

GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt has told GPs attending a series of roadshows over the past few weeks that health boards will be responsible for providing the teams, with GPs directing their work.

GPs will vote on phase two of the proposals – which include direct reimbursement of expenses – in 2020, if this vote goes through.

A Pulse poll of GPs had shown that the profession is as yet undecided with the result a 50:50 split.

Rural GPs had unanimously opposed the new contract but in a special LMCs conference, GP representatives voted largely in favour of several key aspects of the deal.

Dr McDevitt, urged GPs to to accept the new contract offer.

He said: ‘GPs across Scotland have been telling us of the pressures that they are facing. Over a quarter of practices have at least one GP vacancy, and we are increasingly hearing of practices having to hand back responsibility to the health board.

‘We must adopt new ways of working if we are to reverse these trends,’ he said.

‘I believe that this contract sets us in a new direction, whilst retaining the key characteristics that we value, such as the independent contractor status and autonomy to deliver services which are appropriate for our communities.’

He stressed the contract came with significant new funding from the Scottish government and that no practice would see a reduction in income.

The contract offer also includes an expansion of the golden hello scheme in rural areas and provides financial assistance for relocation costs, which will help rural GP recruitment, he added.

‘I truly believe that the contract we have negotiated will, if implemented, bring significant benefits to general practice across the country and help to attract more young doctors into careers as GPs.’