BMA approves new GP contract

Written by Tom Freeman on 19 January 2018 in News

Poll of GPs in Scotland finds 71 per cent support for new contract

Doctor - PA

Doctor's union the BMA has approved Scotland's new GP contract after an internal poll recorded 71.5 per cent support.

The proposals represent a new way of funding family doctors to reflect the challenges of modern medicine amid a recruitment crisis in the profession.

These include a minimum income of £80k for GPs, longer consultations with more complex patients and a workload shared with primary care partners like pharmacists and physiotherapists without a loss of funding.

The role of the GP then becomes a clinical leader of a team who often wouldn't be the first person you see when getting medical advice.

Some rural GPs opposed the new contract, claiming it would stretch remote practices even more than they already are. The new system of allocating funding based on workload, they said, would reward busy urban practices while ignoring the challenges of those looking after big remote areas.

And some questioned why the poll went out during the busiest time of the year for doctors.

In the end, the poll recorded a 39 per cent response rate.

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee said: “I am delighted that the proposed contract that we have worked with the Scottish Government to create will now be implemented.

“I truly believe that this contract offers stability and security of funding for practices in Scotland and will help to reduce the pressures of GP workload and improve GP recruitment and retention.

“The decision to proceed with implementation of this new contract reflects the high level of support for the contract shown in the poll of the profession and the views fed back through local medical committees.

“However, as with any poll there are inevitably those who did not feel able to give their support to the contract.

“We have heard the concerns that they have raised with us, particularly around how additional services and health professionals will be provided in rural areas and their concerns about the income and expenses guarantee.

“A short life working group tasked with providing solutions so that the contract is delivered in a way that works well for rural areas will be established, which will also look for further ways in which rural general practice can be supported."

There was a more cautious welcome from the Royal College of GPs in Scotland.

New chair Dr Carey Lunan said work to protect the relationship between doctors and their patients was only just beginning.

“The BMA’s GP poll demonstrates that our profession has voted to accept a new direction of travel for general practice," she said.

"It is no secret that general practice in Scotland has been facing mounting challenges for some time, compounded by an ever-increasing workload and a reducing workforce.

 “The launch of the new contract and the polling of the profession has not been without its challenges and many GPs, particularly in remote and rural and in deprived urban practices, have raised concerns about the impact of the proposed changes and how this will affect delivery of patient care in their communities.

"However, many have also recognised the opportunities that this contract potentially offers to sustain and rebuild the profession that is at crisis point in many areas across the country."

Health Secretary Shona Robison called the new contract a "historic agreement" between government and doctors.

“We are continuing to work closely in partnership with the BMA on shaping the future of general practice and primary care more widely and together we are confident that this new contract best supports Scotland’s healthcare needs right across the country, and I am delighted that GPs across the country have voted to implement this."

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