Scottish Greens call for more redistributive GP funding
Alison Johnstone calls for a more redistributive model of GP funding to tackle health inequalities
Doctor - credit PA
GP practices in the most deprived parts of Scotland need higher levels of funding, the Scottish Greens have said.
The party has called for a “fairer funding model” to tackle health inequalities.
Green health spokesperson Alison Johnstone has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison highlighting NHS figures showing GP practices in the most deprived ten per cent of Scottish communities get £3.79 more funding per patient than those in the least deprived.
Johnstone argues this is not adequate to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitions to tackle inequality.
The Scottish Government has committed to review the formula used to allocate resources, and Johnstone’s letter calls for a greater share to be given to practices in deprived areas.
“I am very concerned about recent figures showing that GP practices in the most deprived ten percent of postcodes receive just £3.79 more per patient than those in the least deprived,” she said.
“This cannot adequately allow GPs to address unmet need and respond to complex health problems. What is even more concerning is that practices in the most deprived twenty percent of postcodes actually receive £1.34 less per patient than those in the least deprived twenty percent.
“Greens believe the way that funding is distributed directly to GPs should change so that GPs in more deprived areas receive a greater share of funding.”
Nicola Sturgeon used the SNP conference in October to announce plans to spend 11 per cent of the NHS budget on primary care services, but did not specify whether it would be distributed by GPs.
Speaking from his practice in Dingwall, Dr Miles Mack, Chair of RCGP Scotland, said the extra funding given to the Govan SHIP project – a ‘deep-end’ GP-led model of health and social care integration – showed how investment could be used effectively.
“Of course, this investment should not be at the cost of remote and rural areas, where the expense of providing care is inevitably high and needs to be seen through the much wider scope of GP work operating without the backup of the wider primary care team,” he said.
“Instead such new, targeted investment should be seen as part of a package of support that recognises the vital work general practice performs across Scotland to support those most in need and to realise the stated priorities of the present Scottish Government.”
The Scottish budget included £72m for improvements to primary care, which the chair of BMA Scotland’s GP committee Dr Alan McDevitt described as “a small step” towards tackling the pressures on GPs.
“It is essential that this investment provides direct support to GP practices and helps to once again make being a GP an attractive option for those starting a career in medicine,” he said.
“In the longer term, we are working with the Scottish Government towards a new GP contract that will be based upon a wider team of healthcare professionals working in the community and it is clear that significantly more resources are going to be needed to deliver this once an agreement has been reached.”
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