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Scottish health minister announces £71.6m towards GP pay uplift, premises and workforce

The Government will spend an additional £60 million on general practice in 2017/18 on top of a contractual uplift of £11.6m, health secretary Shona Robison announced at the annual Scottish LMCs conference today.

The contractual uplift will cover expenses and a 1% uplift to take-home pay subject to DDRB review, GPs heard.

The additional funding will build up to an additional £250m a year by 2021, Ms Robison further pledged.

A breakdown of the £60m investment will include:

  • £20 million towards workforce, including a five-fold increase in the GP Recruitment and Retention Fund – from £1 million in 2016/17 to £5 million in 2017/18;
  • An increase in sick cover claims for locum cover to match the level of maternity leave cover;
  • £21 million for transformation and clusters and £5.5 million for infrastructure;
  • £200,000 to reimburse the increase in the costs of completing GP appraisals.

Ms Robison told the LMCs conference: ‘I’ve been clear that general practice is indispensable to the health service.

‘We are committed to reinvigorate general practice so we can attract more people into to profession, make things better for people already working there, and ensure it has a bright future.’

She added: ‘This additional investment will enable us to continue to reduce workload, increase the workforce and make services fit for the future.’

GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt said they were delighted to have negotiated with the Scottish Government that a substantial proportion of the additional investment into primary care will be spent in direct support of general practice.

‘Throughout our negotiations we have been absolutely clear that a significant part of this funding must be in direct support of general practice so that we can negotiate how this will be spent to ensure it impacts specifically on the issues facing general practice.’

Ms Robison also reiterated the intention to move away from GP practices providing immunisation programmes without any loss of core funding.

Dr McDeviitt added: ‘This is a very positive step in the right direction towards our shared vision of general practice.

Soeaking to Pulse, Dr McDevitt further clarified to the vote process for the new GMS contract in Scotland which will happen at the point at which funding has been clarified.

‘We intend that to be within a year,’ he said.

Dr McDevitt said some decisions would happen over the next year without a vote, such as removal of child immunisations from core GMS work, but that once the funding is started the contract will be put to GP partners.

Among other issues that are likely to be addressed before the voting stage is premises, Dr McDevitt explained.

‘We will continue to take opportunities to make general practice more sustainable and robust,’ he said.

On the need for speed and getting the new contract sorted Dr McDevitt said he had been frustrated with the progress made so far.

‘Now is the time to bite the bullet’, he said.

His comments come as some BMA colleagues had expressed concern they would not get a vote.