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Care integration ‘must engage GPs’ says Scottish BMA

GPs must be central to plans to integrate health and social care in Scotland, the BMA has urged as legislation was tabled to establish new ‘partnerships’ with shared budgets.

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill was published this week and would lead to Scottish community health partnerships (CHPs) being replaced with new health and social care partnerships (HSCPs) that have a much wider remit to plan and deliver health and social care through shared budgets and targets.

But the BMA warned that the Scottish Government still has more work to do in ensuring it understands what made CHPs fail, so as to not repeat the mistakes of the previous scheme.

Scottish BMA chair Dr Brian Keighley said: ‘As politicians scrutinise this new legislation I urge them to consider what has led to the failures of previous efforts to integrate care.

‘Local partnerships should have genuine influence and good governance. They should have the ability to direct resources to where they are needed and they should be clinically driven, supported by managers. The engagement of doctors in the process of local service planning is vital as they know which patients in their care need support and what they need.’

A Scottish GPC spokesperson said: ‘The Scottish Government has signalled that doctors will have a central role in the new system, however it all depends on the exact detail of how the bill is implemented.

‘We will be keeping a close eye on this as the legislation is passed through parliament.’

Last year, the BMA warned Scottish politicians that the reforms would fail unless GPs, for example LMC leaders, were given a central role representing their community.

The news comes as the UK Government is exploring how integrated care will be rolled out in England, with care minister Norman Lamb announcing a new ‘pioneer site’ scheme earlier this month. The Government has set a deadline for services to be fully integrated by 2018.