The Scottish Government has announced a new £40 million investment in primary care, set to be used as a ‘development fund’ to improve services where they are under particular pressure.
The money will expand the Scottish Government’s ‘Integration Fund’, now worth £173.5 million, which is being used to support the integration of health and social care services.
It is to be spent over the next year across primary care, including for example on GP services in rural and remote areas, to tackle health inequalities in deprived areas or to develop better services for elderly patient populations.
But today Dr John Gillies, RCGP Scotland chair, said: ‘RCGP Scotland is delighted that the cabinet secretary is listening to our patients, to our members and to the public and has announced a new £40 million fund for primary care… This welcome investment must be the beginning of steady, positive change in general practice resourcing that eventually brings our percentage share of NHS spending in Scotland to a sustainable level.’
Responding to the announcement, the Scottish GPC said that although £40m is good news it is ‘not nearly enough’ to address Scottish GP workload pressures.
Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt said: ‘The new development fund could be good news for GPs but it’s too early to say. This is an issue that I will be discussing in more detail with the Cabinet Secretary when we next meet. We have already had some initial brief discussion with Government officials about what this additional funding will be used for, however this is not just funding for general practice, but also for primary care and integration. It is our clear priority to ease the enormous pressure of workload as well as the workforce shortage. Although a welcome initial step to help, £40 million is not nearly enough to solve the problems faced by GPs in Scotland.’
Scottish health minister Alex Neil said: ‘Utilising the new £40 million primary care development fund we can ensure our GPs and primary care professionals can help evolve our health service to meet the changing needs of the people of Scotland.
‘GPs and primary care professionals will be vital to ensuring that health and social care are effectively integrated from April next year, and this new investment will help them design and implement primary care services that best meet the needs of their communities.’
Scottish GP leaders achieved a bid for a three-year contract deal in August which will see no QOF changes uintil 2017, when a wholesale new Scottish GMS contract is being rolled out.