GP practices in Scotland are to receive £15m in extra funding to ‘help them cope with extra pressures’ arising from the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, the Scottish Government has announced.
Around a third of the money will fund practices to remain open on the Easter bank holidays ‘if it is safe to do so’, in order to ‘alleviate pressures’ on out-of-hours services, the Government said.
The rest is to help cover equipment, additional non-clinical staff and GP partner costs, as well as locum cover for sickness leave, it added.
However, the funding is not intended to cover personal protective equipment (PPE), which the Scottish Government is providing separately to all GP practices, it said.
Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said: ‘I want to thank all GP practice staff for their incredible hard work throughout this pandemic.
‘They are doing an invaluable job to keep crucial primary care services going in very challenging circumstances.’
Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee Dr Andrew Buist said: ‘This is an unprecedented time for all of us and asking GPs to keep their practices open over public holidays is not a request we have taken lightly.
‘Practices and out of hours services are working under more pressure than ever during this pandemic and I know GPs across Scotland are willing to put in the extra work required to help the NHS fight this virus.’
He added: ‘I am extremely proud of how quickly GPs have responded to this challenge with flexibility and ingenuity.’
Practices in England will also need to stay open over the Easter – and possibly May – bank holidays this year to ‘align with the rest of the NHS’ but NHS England has not clarified how this will be funded.
Meanwhile, GP leaders and grassroots GPs across the country have raised concerns about the provision of PPE to practices – with some who tried to access NHS England’s ‘emergency’ PPE told to buy their own.