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Scotland officially leaves UK contract negotiations

GP leaders in Scotland have achieved their bid for a three-year contract deal, while agreeing to a wholesale renegotiation from 2017/18 onwards.

The key part of the deal ensures that there are no changes to QOF until 2017, with the interim period to be spent developing a new Scottish GMS contract that is better suited to the Government’s future vision for health and care.

The move, announced yesterday, comes after the Scottish GPC had pushed for a longer-term contract deal, a move backed by LMCs earlier in the year. They also backed, for the first time, a separate Scottish GP contract independent of UK negotiations.

But as part of the deal with the Scottish Government, new Scottish GPs will lose an automatic £5,000 ‘golden hello’ payment upon entering the service unless they take a post in a remote, rural area where health boards have severe recruitment problems.

The agreement also includes:

  • a deal for health boards to fund the costs incurred by sessional locum GPs for their annual appraisal;
  • practices will have to publish their income during 2015-16, with discussions continuing around plans to publish GPs’ NHS net earnings in future;
  • seniority payments will be reviewed to support GP retention but no changes will be implemented before 2017/18;
  • GPs committing to play a key role in Scotland’s work to integrate health and social care, including in the planning and development of local services;
  • and, finally, supporting a move for more prescribing to be undertaken by clinical pharmacists under the ‘Prescription for Excellence’ scheme.

Meanwhile, the review of the GMS contract will focus on how it can be geared towards caring for an increasingly multi-morbid elderly population, finding a solution to problems with GP recruitment and retention, being able to meet patient needs in remote and rural areas of Scotland and for the contract will enable the planned integration of health and social care services.

Commenting on the deal, Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘This agreement is the culmination of ongoing negotiations that we began last year. In November 2013, we began the process of reducing bureaucracy and creating financial stability for general practice to enable GPs to spend less time ticking boxes and more time focusing on the patient in the consultation.

‘Scottish general practice is on the brink of crisis. Having time to focus on finding solutions to the pressures of rising workload and the problems of recruitment and retention will enable us to protect and support the model of general practice that is so valued by our patients.’

‘This will be particularly important as we begin to carry out a wide-ranging review of the GMS contract over the next few years with a view to ensuring Scotland’s GP services are well-prepared for the future.’

A Scottish GPC spokesperson said: ‘It’s not a Scottish contract, it’s Scottish GMS arrangements within the structure and framework of the existing UK contract.’

GPs in Scotland will still be subject to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body process, however.