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Scottish practices to receive £9m IT funding boost

GP practices in Scotland will receive a £9million funding boost to upgrade their IT systems and premises.

More than half of the fund will be spent on digitising GP paper records whilst a further £4.2 million will support implementation of Primary Care Improvement Plans (PCIPs). These improvements include faster broadband speeds, providing WiFi to staff and patients and setting up the online virtual clinic ’Attend Anywhere’ in remote and rural areas.

It is also hoped that the digitisation of patient records will also enable GP practices to free up much needed space for teaching.

Dr Carey Lunan, chair of RCGP Scotland, said: ’We are pleased to see today’s announcement of increased funding for GP practices to upgrade their premises and IT systems. We have long called for concerted action to tackle the challenges that GPs and their patients face every day as a result of poor technology.

’We have been clear that in order for all patients and GPs to harness the potential that technology brings, the basic infrastructure such as superfast broadband, must be in place across Scotland. However, there is still work to be done to address the differing quality of technology available in different health board areas.’

The investment by the Scottish Government is part of a wider commitment to increase GP funding by £250 million by 2021. It falls under the extra investment of £500 million per year for primary care funding.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: ’This funding together with our wider reform programme will mean additional staff working in primary care, providing better services for patients and allowing them to see the right person at the right time.

‘The upgrades to premises and IT systems will see continued improvements to the delivery of high quality patient care.’

Scottish GP Committee deputy chair Patricia Moultrie said the ‘welcome funding’ was a ‘step in the right direction’ to making premises fit for multidisciplinary teams working within general practice in the future as part of Phase 2 of the GP contract.

The £9.34 million will be split as follows:

  • £5 million for Integration Authorities to carry out digitisation of GP paper records and improvements to GP premises
  • £0.14 million to NHS National Services Scotland to digitise paper GP records transferring between paper-light GP practices
  • £2.2 million to support Boards on their implementation of PCIPs and improvements to GP IT in 2019-20 and promoting joint working, including specific support to rural and remote areas.
  • £1.8 million infrastructure investment for internet connectivity and staff and patient Wi-Fi
  • £0.2 million to support deployment of Attend Anywhere to remote and rural GP practices

In September it was announced that GPs in Scotland would receive an additional £23m in 2019/20 as part of the new GP contract.

The new contract, developed in partnership with the BMA, aims to reduce doctors’ workload by investing in multi-disciplinary teams. It also hopes to make the job more attractive to address the widespread GP shortage.