The Scottish government has announced £2.5 million for ‘up-skilling’ general practice staff, which will offer receptionists and practice managers training on how to direct patients to the right service and to take on more administrative tasks currently done by GP.
Health secretary Shona Robinson said general practice nurses will also be able to access training on managing patients with multiple health conditions as part of the £71.6 million committed to general practice funding in 2017/18.
Ms Robison has committed to investing an extra £250 million in general practice per year by 2021.
A key part of the current contract negotiations centres on reducing GP workload and increasing capacity through making greater use of nurses, physiotherapists, and other health professionals into primary care.
Ms Robison said: ‘We want to reinvigorate general practice and attract more people into the profession. We also want to shift the balance of care into the community, and general practice clearly has a significant role to play.
‘By investing in the training of practice staff we can make the whole system more efficient, freeing up time for doctors to spend on their consultations.
‘We can also increase the skills of those practice staff and improve their job satisfaction.’
Dr Alan McDevitt, Scotland GPC chair said it was a welcome investment.
‘Practice managers, practice nurses, receptionists and health care assistants are all essential to the future of general practice.’
RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said every practice needed well trained staff but it cannot be a substitute for increasing the number of GPs.
He added that receptionists should not be carrying out patient triage but trained to help guide people to the best options within their community.
‘We have called for quite a while for the wider multi-disciplinary primary care team to be expanded. GPs, however, are the keystone for patients and they must remain as such. There are many things that only a GP can do and those services must be protected.’
He said the RCGP would be keen to be involved in training for practice nurses to continue to ‘extend their role for patients with chronic conditions’.
And Dr Mack said it was still unclear how the government plans to reach the pledged additional investment in GP practices.
This follows a similar commitment set out in NHS England’s GP Forward View.