The Scottish Government has announced a £300m funding package for the NHS and social care to ‘help get people the care they need as quickly as possible this winter’.
Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf said in Parliament that he would ‘expect to see an increase in GP face-to-face appointments’ as a result of the new funding.
The package includes ‘up to’ £28m of additional funding to support primary care services, including in optometry and dentistry as well as general practice.
The cash injection aims to drive multi-disciplinary recruitment to help general practice and address the backlog in routine dental care.
The funding package also includes:
- Up to £15m this financial year to employ 1,000 extra healthcare support staff in bands 2, 3 and 4, to assist staff in hospitals and community health teams;
- New measures to help people who have recently retired from health and social care roles to return, and allow healthcare students to work part-time support roles;
- £4m for staff wellbeing, such as hot drinks, food and access to rest facilities, pastoral care and psychological support.
Mr Yousaf said: ‘First, we must recognise that general practice has remained open throughout the pandemic and that it is at the forefront of our response to it. I reject any suggestion that general practice has been closed. I thank GPs and their staff for their efforts during the pandemic.
‘Secondly, even before the pandemic, phone and video consultations had a role to play in treating patients. They will continue to be a part of the hybrid model that we offer to patients for the foreseeable future.’
He added: ‘However, with recent changes to guidance, and the measures that we are announcing today, I would expect to see an increase in GP face-to-face appointments.’
He said he plans to reiterate these points to all GPs in Scotland in a joint letter with the BMA later this week.
It comes as a ‘reckless’ and ‘premature’ motion calling for the ‘return to normal’ GP services with more face-to-face appointments failed to pass a vote in the Scottish Parliament last month.
Meanwhile, some practices in Scotland are having to divert phone calls to an urgent care service due to increased demand.
Pharmacy leaders warned NHS Scotland should temporarily stop recruiting community pharmacists and community pharmacy technicians into GP primary care support roles or it will face ‘unnecessary’ workforce strain in other areas.
It followed NHS Scotland publishing its NHS Recovery Plan in August, in which it detailed plans to recruit more pharmacists into general practice.