Scotland politics

Scottish government agrees £71m GP funding boost

Junior doctor featured in video Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption The cash will be used to boost GP services and aid recruitment

GPs are to be given an extra £71.6m to help boost beleaguered services and increase the number of local doctors.

The Scottish health secretary announced the funding at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual GP conference.

The cash is part of a commitment by ministers to invest an extra £250m in general practice each year by 2021.

It follows warnings of staffing shortfalls and heavier workloads, with increasing numbers of surgeries being taken over by health boards.

The funding will see £60m in direct support to general practice, including £20m towards workforce costs and £5.5m for infrastructure.

'Unprecedented workload'

More than £11m extra is also being given to cover pay and expenses.

The government said the GP Recruitment and Retention Fund would increase five-fold - from £1m in 2016-17 to £5m in 2017-18.

The money would also be used to help fund GP bursaries and expand a scheme to encourage retired GPs to return to practice.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The BMA welcomed a proposal to move immunisation services away from GPs

Speaking at the BMA conference in Clydebank, Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "This additional investment will enable us to continue to reduce workload, increase the workforce and make services fit for the future.

"I recognise there are challenges, but by listening to the profession and working with them, we are delivering the investment and reform to meet those challenges head on."

'Saving local practices'

The BMA welcomed the cash and a proposal to shift responsibility for immunisation programmes from GPs.

BMA chair, Dr Alan McDevitt said: "Practices are currently facing unprecedented workload pressures against a backdrop of an ageing population with increasingly complex care needs.

"Freeing up practice time by removing responsibility for immunisation programmes will give welcome relief to overloaded practice staff, allowing them to concentrate more on the needs of patients."

Scottish Labour said the money was funding that had already been announced by Nicola Sturgeon last year and was merely the result of the SNP trying to reverse its own spending cuts.

The party's health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said: "The test will not just be the money spent, it will be number of new GP recruited, GPs retained, saving local practices from closures and more auxiliary support services.

"The SNP need to outline where this money is coming from - will it mean further cuts to acute services the SNP told us were safe?"

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