This site is intended for health professionals only

Scotland confirms block on private providers

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Scottish Parliament has confirmed it is to press ahead with its decision to block commercial companies from running GP services north of the border.

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill, passed in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, has amended the 1978 NHS Act by removing the ability for commercial companies to hold primary medical services contracts.

The decision marks a landmark divergence in health policy between the devolved nations and England, where the clause has been used to promote the rapid expansion of private providers running GP services.

The move has been attacked by business leaders, but welcomed by the BMA, who said it would ensure that continuity of care for patients was maintained, and ensure that general practice remains ‘the cornerstone of the NHS’.

Dr Dean Marshall, a GP in Midlothian and Chair of Scottish GPC, said: ‘Doctors across Scotland welcome this commitment to a publicly provided and delivered NHS. Accountability to a commercial employer and short term contracts are an uncertain basis for the long term relationship between professionals and patients upon which effective primary care depends.

‘Every year in Scotland, more than 20 million patient consultations take place in GP practices with a team of highly skilled individuals. For most patients, their GP is their first and only point of contact in the NHS system.

‘It is important to value the quality of general practice in Scotland and celebrate its success. Now that there is a commitment to NHS general practice, the Government must work with primary healthcare professionals to make sure that the service is the best it can be.’

The BMA also welcomed the measures in the Bill designed to prevent young people from taking up smoking.

Has hailed the Scottish Parliament’s decision Dr Dean Marshall