MSPs to vote on Greens’ bid to boost GP funding

MSPs will vote on a call by the Scottish Greens for a funding boost for GPs to help tackle recruitment and retention problems.

The party’s parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone will lead a debate at Holyrood on Wednesday highlighting a drop in the number of GPs as demand is rising.

Ahead of the debate, she said resources are not being made available to cope with the envisaged shift to services in the community which is key to the Scottish Government’s integration of health and social care.

The number of whole time equivalent GPs has fallen by 160 (4%) since 2013, according to the 2017 Primary Care Workforce Survey.

Industry body the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) predicted a shortfall of 856 GPs by 2021 – which the Greens said would shift further work to under-pressure Accident and Emergency Departments.

Alison Johnstone
Green MSP Alison Johnstone will lead the debate (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Ms Johnstone said: “The Scottish Government’s health and social care strategy encourages healthcare provision within communities, yet the resources are not being made available to support GPs to deliver the quality of care that people expect.

“It’s acknowledged that funding GPs is more cost effective than the alternative, which sees patients heading directly to A&E departments and increasing pressure on secondary care, but the Health Secretary seems reluctant to make the necessary investment which will, ultimately, pay for itself.

“The British Medical Association and RCGP have both called for 11% of the NHS budget to be allocated to GPs.

“This week I’ll bring a vote to parliament, urging ministers to ensure that adequate support is urgently made available.”

The Scottish Conservatives also want 11% of the NHS spending to go to GPs, to improve recruitment, retention and working conditions.

With many GPs taking early retirement due to their increasing workload, we need to do more to support General Practice.

Here's our plan to

— ScotConservatives (@ScotTories) March 15, 2019

The party’s health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Under the SNP local GP surgeries have been starved of resources.

“Since 2012 GP funding in Scotland has not kept up with funding in England. Had Nicola Sturgeon fairly funded Scotland’s GPs they would have had £658 million more today.

“It is little wonder GP practices are closing across the country as they are unable to cope with the growing financial pressures they face and an SNP government which is ignoring the needs of rural GPs.”

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