The numbers game

Written by on 11 November 2014

An extra £40m is to be invested in GP practices in deprived and rural areas, Health Secretary Alex Neil announced last week.

This new primary care development fund is intended to support new ways of delivering local GP and primary care services that can better support the changing demographics of the Scottish population.

Announcing the decision, Neil told Parliament that investment in primary care has led to an increase in the number of GPs in Scotland by 5.7 per cent under this Government, adding that the fund will “empower GPs to develop initiatives that address workload challenges, tackle health inequalities in deprived and rural areas and meet the changing needs of the people of Scotland.”

The announcement comes amidst growing pressure on the SNP Government to address the issue of NHS finances. 

Last week Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland chair, Dr John Gillies, delivered a petition signed by 21,000 Scots calling for further resources for general practice to the office of First Minister Alex Salmond.

One in four Scots patients cannot get an appointment at their local surgery within a week, a survey commissioned by RCGP Scotland found. 

“When the crisis in general practice clearly shows patient safety to be under threat, it is incumbent upon the Scottish Government to act,” Gillies warned.

Accusations of a crisis in NHS funding were also flying at First Minister’s Questions after a report by Audit Scotland warned of building pressures and emphasised the need for a focus on long-term financial planning. Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie appealed at First Minister’s Questions for “a plan – any plan at all – to deal with the growing crisis in the NHS.”

“In his world, everything is wonderful and rosy. However, while we wait on answers, people in Scotland’s hospitals are waiting on trolleys, waiting for an ambulance to turn up and waiting for an NHS that Scotland needs and which people deserve,” Baillie said, as she accused Salmond of being “in denial”.

Salmond, once more batted away the criticisms with well-rehearsed arguments about Westminster cuts.

However, Neil’s subsequent announcement perhaps shows that that the government has recognised the need for a different answer.  

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