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Scottish contract delivering ‘insufficient’ progress, says Scottish GPC chair

There has been an ‘insufficient pace of progress’ in delivering the first phase of the Scottish GP contract, according to the BMA Scotland GP Committee chair.

In his opening speech at the Scottish LMCs conference today, BMA Scotland GP Committee chair Dr Andrew Buist said if delivering on the contract continues as is, then it will not achieve full contract implementation by April 2021.

Dr Buist agreed that he and many other delegates at the conference are frustrated by the changes to frontline GP services.

He added that while the GPC was able to create a new contract that promises what the BMA asked for, the contact is still not implementing the ‘urgent changes’ needed on the ground.

He said: ‘While every partnership area has a Primary Care Implementation Plan, we have been concerned that these plans are often constrained by what is possible within budgets allocated.

‘In some cases, they simply aren’t ambitious enough to deliver fully on the contract and for both these reasons a number of these plans remain unsigned by LMCs.’

He added: ‘It is undeniably the case that if we continue as we are – with insufficient pace of progress across Scotland, and lack of ability to deliver on multi-disciplinary teams– then we will not achieve full contract implementation by April 2021.’

Dr Buist also addressed BMA Scotland’s efforts for flexible contract implementation in rural areas in the run-up to phase two of the Scottish GP contract, which will address GP earnings and GP workforce.

He said:’The fact that implementing the contract is hard cannot be used as an excuse for those who agreed to it, to not deliver on our agreement. Our expectation is that these services must be in place by 2021 because after that date they will no longer be core contract work.

‘As GPs – and as Scottish GPC – our job is to help lead the change we need. But the delivery of more rapid progress is of course outside our remit. Instead, those who hold the levers – Health and Social Care Partnerships, the Scottish Government and health boards themselves, must make this a priority. 

‘As a key example, health boards must deliver the staff needed for multi-disciplinary teams, in the timescales set out. Every board needs to put this at the top of their to-do list. And we need a clear, practical national workforce plan from the Scottish Government to make this a reality.’

Meanwhile, the SNP has called on the next UK Government to commit to increasing NHS spending per patient to the same level of investment in Scotland.