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Rural GPs remain unhappy about the new Scottish GP contract

The introduction of an ambitious new GP contract for Scotland in the last week will ‘make general practice sustainable for the future’, the BMA has said.

But rural GPs remain unhappy about the deal, pointing to a lack of progress on the short-life working group that was proposed to address concerns from rural and remote GPs.

Setting Scotland on a different path to the rest of the UK, the contract will see direct reimbursement of practice and staff expenses, a move away from GPs owning premises and a focus on the GP as an expert medical generalist at the head of a multidisciplinary team.

It also includes the transfer of responsibility of some services, including vaccinations, to health boards without loss of funding – changes which LMCs also want to be negotiated into the English GP contract.

Almost three-quarters of GPs who responded to a poll backed the contract would see overall funding increase under a new funding formula and the proposals also include a minimum earnings expectation to ensure no GP partner earns less than £80,430.

But rural GPs have been outspoken in their concern about the impact the contract will have on their practices.

The Rural GP Association said members were still patiently waiting for news on the short-life working group set up to reassure those in remote and rural areas.

In a recent poll of their members, the Association said nearly 70% of respondents did not feel confident that the contract changes will be beneficial to Scottish rural practices and less confident about their practice’s sustainability.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee said he was delighted the new contract was now being implemented.

‘The additional funding attached to this contract is a significant investment and demonstrates the value placed on the role of general practice in the NHS in Scotland.

‘I truly believe that this contract offers something to GP practices in every part of Scotland.

‘It will help to reduce the pressures of GP workload and improve GP recruitment and retention.’

Dr Alida MacGregor, vice-chair of RGPAS said: ‘The issues facing rural Scottish general practice are complex, this has been acknowledged by Scottish Government and Scottish GPC.

‘Phase one of the new GP contract did not adequately address these issues.

‘We believe that the solutions can be found to deliver a fit for purpose, rural-proofed contract.’