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Motion passed for general practice funding boost in Scotland

A motion proposed by the Scottish Green party to boost funding for general practice has been approved in Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Greens called for the vote to allocate 11% of the health budget to primary care last week, in an attempt to address a ‘crisis’ in GP recruitment and retention. 

However, the motion was non-binding – meaning that it will not automatically progress to law – but instead operates as a way for public officials to address the concerns of their constituents. 

Parliamentary co-leader of the Scottish Greens and Lothian MSP Alison Johnstone said she was ‘concerned about the increasing gaps in out-of-hours GP service provision across Scotland, given the value of this service to local communities.’

Reduced out-of-hours services have been an ongoing problem in Scotland. It was recently reported that cuts to out-of-hours have been extended for a further six months in Fife.

Both the BMA and RCGP have supported the call for 11% to be given to GPs, said Ms Johnstone in a debate in Parliament.

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RCGP Scotland chair Dr Carey Lunan said the vote shows the ‘political will’ of investing in ‘community-based care, where 90% of all NHS consultations take place.’

The party also pointed out the number of full-time equivalent GPs had fallen by 4% since 2013, according to the 2017 Primary Care Workforce survey.

Last month, it was announced that a Government pilot initiative signed up 14 GPs in a bid to attract GPs to remote areas in Scotland.

Dr Lunan said: ‘I am delighted to see cross-party support for the work of general practice, following today’s debate in the Scottish Parliament, and I commend MSPs for backing RCGP’s call for 11% of the overall health budget.

‘We have been campaigning for this increase since 2013, with strong public support. Adequate resourcing of general practice will allow GPs to develop and deliver services according to local need and will crucially allow us to spend more time with the patients who need us the most.’

RCGP Scotland has previously warned the Government that funding for GP practices in deprived areas of Scotland will worsen health inequalities under the new GP contract.