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GPs could stop doing childhood and travel vaccinations under new plans

A move away from GPs doing childhood and travel vaccinations, while retaining funding, forms part of plans to overhaul the GP contract in Scotland.

The news comes as part of an announcement that the full new Scottish GMS contract will not come in from April 2017, as was planned, with the current ‘pay stability’ deal extended to April 2018.

In a joint statement today the GPC and Government said there would be no ‘big bang’ overhaul next year but rather a gradual change towards relieving GPs of workload and increasing overall primary care funding.

To that end, the parties said that they have agreed to ‘a full review of all aspects of GP pay and expenses that will take place in 2017, and inform options from 2018’.

‘To allow this work to take place we are therefore extending the current pay stability agreement to April 2018,’ the parties added.

They said they would also ‘review current GMS services with a view, where appropriate, to transfer responsibility for those services to the wider healthcare system’.

Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt said workload they are looking at having removed from practices and carried out elsewhere included childhood and travel vaccinations.

This follows the move already to remove QOF to reduce bureaucracy in GP consultations.

Dr McDevitt said that the period of ‘pay stability’ meant the contract would be unchanged from April apart from the ‘business as usual’ uplift review including the DDRB.

He told Pulse: ‘We will introduce a number of changes to the contract from October 2017. We will also be looking to transfer services without losing income associated with it. To begin with we are looking at childhood vaccinations and travel advice and vaccination.

‘Obviously that is quite a complex thing, getting someone else to provide it, and so that will take quite a bit of organising. But we intend to start that happening in 2017, and there will be no loss of income to practices which are no longer doing that.’

A joint letter from the Scottish GPC and Scottish Government sent to all GPs said: ‘We hope to see first steps taken in 2017, with further changes in the years ahead.’

But it added that ‘the nature of the changes require careful planning in line with the planned increase of both funding and staff resources, and ensuring stability’ and that ‘this does not fit well with a “big bang” approach but represents a measured step-wise approach to changing the GP contract and primary care’.

The Scottish Government, which last month pledged an extra £500m in funding for general practice in Scotland by 2020/21 to take it up to 11% of total NHS funding, said today’s joint agreement was ‘significant because it is the bedrock of a strong partnership between the Scottish Government and the GP profession’.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said: ‘We are shifting the balance of care away from hospitals and into the community, and GPs have a vital role to play in working with us to make it happen.

‘For our part we will work to improve the attractiveness of general practice as a career, with action on workloads, and steps to create a more sustainable workforce.’

Speaking earlier this year at Pulse Live in Edinburgh, Dr McDevitt said the new Scottish GP contract would save the independent GP contractor model in Scotland.