The Scottish Government will launch a marketing campaign this year to attract GPs from the rest of the UK and overseas as part of its commitment to boost numbers by 800 over the next 10 years.
And the number of ‘golden hello’ £10k bursaries is to be expanded from 44 to 160 practices in remote and rural areas.
The plans are among steps outlined in the government’s report on meeting demand for GPs, nurses, and other healthcare staff working in the multidisciplinary teams set out in the new Scottish GMS contract which came into force in April.
But GP leaders called for more detail around exactly how the government would ensure the additional workforce needed in primary care would be put in place quickly.
Measures taken so far to improve the attractiveness of general practice in Scotland have yet to yield results, according to recent figures which showed the workforce declined by over 4% in the last five years
The latest report – the third of a recent series on workforce – describes a ‘modern general practice’ with the GP as the expert medical generalist overseeing a team of other staff.
Part of the £500m that had been announced in extra funding for primary care up to 2021 would go to training extra advanced nurse practitioners, community links workers, and allied health professionals, it said.
And there are plans for an additional 1,000 paramedics to work in support of general practice, more mental health workers and for every practice to have access to a pharmacist.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, said the objectives outlined closely reflect the BMA’s vision for the future of primary care.
‘However, we would like to see much more detail around how the additional workforce that is so desperately needed to sustain this vision will be delivered.
‘The new GP contract is now being implemented across Scotland and it is essential that multidisciplinary teams are able to start developing their capacity and extend their roles as soon as possible to enable them to support practices effectively.’
He added he looked forward to seeing more detail in an updated version of the plan which is due in September.
Dr Carey Lunan, chair of RCGP Scotland, said it is clear that designing the workforce plan was a ‘difficult and complex task’.
‘We welcome the Scottish Government’s aim to deliver an additional 800 GPs by 2027 but the Government must recognise that many of these GPs will choose to work part-time, and our own research has shown an increase of 856 full-time GPs is needed by 2021.
She added: ‘Any targets must be underpinned by a robust plan to deliver them and as more data is gathered about the work carried out in primary care, especially by our hard-pressed GPs, planners will need to be able to adopt a flexible approach to the delivery and resourcing of local services.’
Dr Lunan added that it ‘we must not lose sight of the need to urgently expand our GP workforce’ amidst plans to expand the primary care team.