RCGP Scotland has said that £1.6bn has been cut from the general practice budget over the past 10 years, and has subsequently called on the Government for an increase in funding.
The RCGP analysis shows that in 2005/06 general practice received 9.8% of NHS Scotland funding, which had fallen to 7.4% by 2015/16.
According to the college, this is equivalent to £1.6bn, or 4.5 million lost consultations per year over the 10 years. RCGP Scotland is calling for general practice to receive 11% of the NHS Scotland budget.
Dr Miles Mack, chair of RCGP Scotland and a GP in Dingwall, said ‘£1.6 billion has been cut from the budget of general practice that should have been invested in GPs, staff and infrastructure. Instead we have a recruitment crisis and patients waiting three weeks for an appointment with their family doctor.’
He added that this £1.6bn loss is ‘over four and a half times the combined cuts Scotland’s 32 councils have just accepted’.
‘General practice simply cannot continue along these lines. Without an increase in funding, Scottish Government’s plans for more community-based care will not be met and patient care and safety will suffer,’ Dr Mack added.
However, Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robison countered RCGP Scotland’s analysis, adding: ‘These claims do not reflect the reality – which is that funding for GPs has actually increased each year under this Government, rising from £704.61m in 2007-08 to £852.57m in 2014-15 – at the same time as we have increased the overall NHS budget in Scotland to £13bn a year.’
Dr Mack claimed last month that the Scottish Government sees general practice as ‘dispensable’, after an RCGP Scotland analysis showed that the real-terms percentage increase in funding for general practice for 2016/17 was 1.9%, compared with 3.8% for health boards.