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New Scottish contract ‘is not intended to give GPs a large pay rise’

The new Scottish contract will be unlikely to bring about big pay rises for GPs, the head of Scottish GPs has told the Pulse Live audience in Glasgow.

The chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, Dr Alan McDevitt, said that the contract will address workload issues, and change the role of the GP.

Pulse reported yesterday that Dr McDevitt was ‘confident’ the proposals would offer stability and make the profession attractive to young doctors.

He told delegates today that ‘you’re not going to vote for this contract because it becomes with a pay rise’.

Scottish ministers have promised £500m for primary care by 2020 – £250m directly for general practice recurring from 2021 – and a new contract is being negotiated in which pharmacists, nurses and other primary care professionals take on a greater role to reduce pressure on GPs.

Answering a question from Pulse editor Nigel Praities on the £250m a year earmarked to support GPs, Dr McDevitt said: ‘Practices will see it being used in direct support, for example for all these new staff.

‘Is it going straight into your account to be used as profit? Probably not. It is not intended to give you a large pay rise. You’re not going to vote for this contract because it becomes with a pay rise – let’s be honest about that.’

However, he added that this is not the ‘expressed intent’ of the contract. He said: ‘It is also true that most of the problems we have are not about income. Income is an issue. But most people don’t say “if I got a 5% pay rise, I’d be happy”. The new contract is solving the problems we do have.’

Among the detail announced so far includes a wider healthcare team taking over some jobs traditionally done by the GP, including some chronic disease management, routine checks, and drug monitoring.

GPs will have access to NHS-run services including prescribing and treatment room services to reduce their workload.

The proposed new contract has been designed to free GPs to focus on complex patients, making diagnoses, and improving patient outcomes, Dr McDevitt said.

The BMA will poll the profession on the new contract after a special LMCs conference on 1 December.