Polling has opened on a proposed new GP contract for Scotland, which aims to reduce workload pressures and re-establish general practice as an attractive career option.
Elements of the proposed contract include freeing GPs up to be expert medical generalists at the heart of an expanded multidisciplinary team and steps to make rural general practice sustainable.
SGPC chair Alan McDevitt said a yes vote would be good for GPs, good for the health service and good for patients.
However, the Rural GP Association of Scotland says members “report frustrations with the highly aspirational content of the proposals, without adequately defined commitment and detail on how these are to be achieved.”
RGPAS has also published this contract uplift heatmap, in which the winners under the new contract are marked in green.
Following the special conference of Scottish local medical committees held on 1 December, the BMA reported that delegates overwhelmingly backed the contract, saying it would address workload pressures, make general practice an attractive career option, put it on a sustainable financial footing and reduce risk.
Dr McDevitt said the Scottish Government had pledged a significant amount of funding in direct support of general practice through this contract proposal.
Attending the conference, DDA board member for Scotland Dr Hal Maxwell said that rural practices had been reassured that rural top-up payment would not be eroded by increases in the global sum. He noted that rural practices had expressed “a great deal of dissatisfaction about the new funding formula,” with “memories of the old MPIG which eroded over time.”
Dr McDevitt pledged: “No practice will see a reduction in income under the new contract, and many practices will see an increase in income. The proposed contract will also expand golden hellos in rural areas and provides financial assistance for relocation costs, which will help rural GP recruitment.”
Rural practices are also concerned about the concept of multidisciplinary teams, given rural population sparsity, and potential lack of availability of staff to fulfil roles. Dr Maxwell said: “It was felt that in rural areas specifically the default will always be the GP as there will be no-one else available to do it. The feelings could be summarised as ‘Net gain nil, net impact of sustaining rural practice nil’.”
He suggested that many RGPAS members are opposed to the contract and are likely to vote no.
The contract poll closes on 4 January and is open to all GPs and GP trainees working in Scotland. Anyone wishing to take part who isn’t already registered must email the BMA before Thursday 21 December.
Contract documents are available from the BMA.
In a debate in the Scottish Government, health and sport secretary Shona Robison has pledged to meet with RGPAS to discuss its contract concerns.
Speaking on behalf of rural GPs, Miles Briggs (Lothian, Con), said: “The new contract needs to contain flexibility, as a one-size-fits-all approach will clearly not suit the needs of all GPs in the different parts of our country.”