The Scottish Government has assigned £5m to improve existing GP practice premises, including improving ventilation to boost infection control.
It will also go towards digitising paper GP records to increase space, as well as premises improvement grants for GP contractors who own or lease from private landlords.
A further £2m was assigned to create new primary care premises, via authorities taking over empty high street buildings and turning them into new primary care estate.
The vacant buildings will become sites for multi-disciplinary teams, such as vaccinators, mental health nurses and audiology specialists.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: ‘GP surgeries provide a wide range of services, supporting both the physical and mental health of patients. So it’s vital they get the space they need to allow primary care multi-disciplinary teams to do their jobs.
‘As we recover from the most challenging time in NHS history, our work is not only about providing access to services, but ensuring those services are high quality and inclusive for all of our communities. This funding will give GP practices the space they need to serve patients in the safest and most effective way.’
Dr Andrew Cowie, deputy chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, told Pulse: ‘We welcome this investment in primary care premises, and indeed it is something we have been calling for for some time. We need to ensure that practices know it is available to them and that the process to apply for funding is clear and straightforward.’
But he also said the money did not go far enough.
He claimed: ‘There were many practices in Scotland that required upgrading pre-Covid – in fact a survey carried out by the Scottish Government a couple of years ago suggested GP premises have around £43 million worth of backlog repairs and refurbishments required to bring them up to spec.
‘That’s before we even start to consider what else needs to be done relating to Covid-19 measures, so while this is definitely welcome, there is still more that needs to be done.’
It comes as BMA Scotland issued a workload warning after its survey suggested 10% of the population are having one GP appointment per week.
The Scottish Government previously announced a £300m funding package for the NHS and social care, but health secretary Humza Yousaf said he would ‘expect to see an increase in GP face-to-face appointments’ as a result of the new funding.
In May, the BMA sent a letter to then health secretary Matt Hancock asking for a commitment to fund GP premises development to ‘improve ventilation and space in waiting areas’, among other things.