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Record number of GP practices hand back contracts

More GP practices in Scotland handed back their contracts to the health board in 2016 than any other year on record, figures from the RCGP show.

Last year there were 52 practices run by health boards, after increasing numbers of GPs were forced to hand back contracts because they were unable to continue providing services, the RCGP said.

It means the number of patients registered with a practice run by a health board, so-called ‘2C’ practices, almost doubled in the past decade from 83,290 to 160,322.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said GPs right across Scotland were being forced to close their doors or hand contracts back.

The figures raise concerns over the impact on patient care and on ‘lost value for money’ in healthcare provision, he added.

‘In particular, it means that GPs are no longer in a leadership role and there is less continuity of care for patients,’ said Dr Mack.

The RCGP has called for 11% of NHS Scotland’s budget to go directly to funding general practice.

In 2005/06, 9.8% of the Scottish Health budget was spent on GP care, falling to 7.2% by 2015/16.

Last year the Scottish Government announced £500m to be spent in primary care by 2020 to bring the share to 11% of the NHS budget.

It has been confirmed that £250m of that will be in direct support of general practice.

In this financial year £71m has been promised for general practice.

The RCGP has called for clarity over exactly where extra investment will be spent.

Details of funding are expected later this year after negotiations on the new GP contract for Scotland are finalised.

Dr Mack added that the evidence from the Scottish Government’s own Govan SHIP project has shown how much patients can benefit from better resourcing of general practice.

‘Funding for wider primary care, already at 23% of NHS Scotland’s budget, also could be increased,’ he said.