NHS Scotland to increase stake in GP premises with £50m ‘de-risk’ loans
More GPs in Scotland are to get more support with the cost of running their surgeries after an extension to a loan scheme was announced by the Scottish Government.
The GP premises sustainability loan scheme, aimed at easing the burden of owning premises, has been increased by £20m to £50m before April 2021.
The loans are only repayable when the building is sold or converted to non-medical use, meaning the NHS will have a stake of up to 20 per cent in the premises.
The initiative runs alongside the new GP contract, in which doctors relinquished some autonomy for more a stable funding system.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The Scottish Government greatly values the contribution the GP profession makes to the nation’s health, and that’s why we want to make sure they have the support they need.
“Both the BMA and individual GPs have raised concerns with us about the financial risk of owning premises. So we have responded directly, and this scheme helps to ‘de-risk’ general practice and reduce some of the up-front costs GPs can face when joining a practice.
“In doing so, I hope this will make becoming a GP partner more attractive, making it easier to recruit new GPs to a practice. This in turn will contribute to our commitment to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.”
Dr Andrew Buist, chair of BMA Scotland’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee said: “At the heart of the new GP contract introduced last year was a clear aim to make becoming a GP a more attractive career choice and encourage more people into working in this part of the profession.
“Key to that is reducing risk and financial burdens around choosing to be a GP. This funding is a great example of this principle in action – and the practical benefits that the contract has secured for GPs.”
Dr Carey Lunan, chair of the Royal College of GPs in Scotland, said: “We welcome any investment into general practice that makes the profession more attractive as a career. It is encouraging that Scottish Government has seen how direct investment is likely to improve recruitment and retention.
“RCGP Scotland has shown how the country will be 856 Whole Time Equivalent GPs short by 2021. The Scottish Government has an aim to provide an extra 800 headcount GPs by 2027.
“Clearly, anything that helps us gain more GPs, and hold on to the ones we have, is to be supported. As these workforce figures show, however, more needs to be done as a matter of urgency.”