New funding for GPs promised by the UK Government must also be ploughed into general practice north of the border in order to sustain the profession, the chair of RCGP Scotland has said.
Speaking at a debate at Pulse Live Scotland on how general practice can survive further austerity, Dr Miles Mack said promises from health secretary Jeremy Hunt around investment in England could present an opportunity for GPs to secure a boost in funding the college has been fighting for across the whole UK.
Dr Mack, a GP in Dingwall in the Highlands, said funding of general practice in Scotland had slipped even further than in the rest of the UK so that it now only receives around 7.8% of the NHS budget, despite absorbing a 10% increase in consultations over the past 10 years – but that there were now ‘opportunities to change that’and ‘to press that this is going to be money really well spent’.
Dr Mack added: ‘The benefit of Mr Hunt promising all sorts of things down in England is… this is an ideal opportunity for us to make sure that point is made, that when these wider consequentials are being spent that general practice – and primary care more widely – actually gets a fair shot.
‘Quite a lot of this is providing care for people with multimorbidity in the community and the people that can do this are generalists – not just us, but district nurses.’
However, he said the profession would need to ensure it retained its core values if the next GP contract negotiations in Scotland mean core work is stripped back.
Dr Mack said: ‘If some of our core values are being a generalist and being the hub of the NHS, we need to make sure we still have input and influence in the full range of patients’ experiences.’
Dr Russell Brown, GPC member and co-founder of the organisation Resilient GP, told delegates they needed to put their ‘personal and professional resilience’ first in order to ensure general practice survived the next period of deepening austerity.
Dr Brown said: ‘The power to change this is in our hands. Yes there need to be national conversations but resilience is key – personal resilience and professional resilience.
‘If we don’t learn how to manage our own workload in our own practices, we are not going to have the time to engage with these processes to make the changes necessary for us to survive, as a craft.’