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Scottish GP leaders vote in favour on key aspects of new contract

The majority of GP representatives attending a special LMCs conference think that the new Scottish GP contract addresses the key issues of sustainable funding, reduced risk, attractiveness of the profession and reduced workload.

Votes on each aspect of the proposed contract – which the profession will be polled on this month – found around 80% agreed or strongly agreed it would have a positive impact.

However strong concerns were raised about the risks of GPs not directly employing new multi-disciplinary teams and fears that GPs were losing their autonomy.

Some said they were ‘hugely skeptical’ that primary care would actually get the money promised in the contract although others said they were excited about the contract and called for more optimism and trust.

BMA GP Committee chair for Scotland Dr Alan McDevitt said the debate had been pretty positive.

‘There is no doubt that general practice must adapt. We have to find new ways of working,’ he said.

Both Dr McDevitt and the health secretary Shona Robison reassured delegates that the first phase of the contract could continue indefinitely if GPs did not agree to phase two which will include further details on funding.

Dr Simon Willetts from Dumfries and Galloway LMC said: ‘This contract offer is very positive.

‘This is the beginning of something really novel,’ he said pointing out that no contract would make everyone happy all the time.

Dr Iain Morrison, from Midlothian LMC wanted more detail on income guarantees but said: ‘There’s a lot to welcome in this contact and I’m very encouraged by lots of the direction of it.’

But Dr Iain Kennedy, medical secretary of Highland LMC told the conference: ‘What we have worked out is this is a salaried contract by stealth.’

He also said there was concern that ‘assets’ of practices most importantly staff employed by practices would be ‘stripped’ by the new contract.

Dr Erik Jespersen, also from Highland LMC, said they had done a poll in Argyll and Bute and 100% of GPs said they had no confidence in the health board to provide the extra staff.

Dr Lynn Duff from Lanarkshire LMC said the contract would stifle innovation and crush new talent by taking away control from GPs.

‘This is a fundamentally flawed model,’ she said, adding that if it went ahead her practice would end up handing back its contract.

The most positive aspects of the contract appeared to be on sustainability and reducing workload, where 84% said they agreed or strongly agreed that the measures outlined in the contract addressed the current problems.

A Pulse poll of over 200 Scottish GPs revealed that the result of the upcoming vote on whether or not to adopt the contract is on a knife edge, with the profession split 50:50.

Also at the conference, the health secretary announced a £100m investment in the new contract, alongside £7.5m for golden hellos to all rural practices.

LMC voting results in full

Does the contract address sustainability of funding

Strongly disagree – 2%

Disagree – 5%

Neither agree or disagree – 10%

Agree – 45%

Strongly Agree – 39%

Does the contract address risk?

Strongly disagree – 2%

Disagree – 9%

Neither agree or disagree – 9%

Agree – 54%

Strongly agree – 25%

Does the contract improve attractiveness of practice?

Strongly disagree – 1%

Disagree – 10%

Neither agree or disagree – 10%

Agree – 56%

Strongly agree – 23%

Does the contract reduce GP workload?

Strongly disagree – 2%

Disagree – 2%

Neither agree or disagree – 10%

Agree – 43%

Strongly agree – 42%