Incentives to recruit GPs to rural areas of Scotland are among the pledges set out by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Government’s programme for Scotland 2015-16, A Stronger Scotland.
A £60 million primary care transformation fund will be spent on a multi-faceted effort to improve GP training and recruitment, recruit 140 new pharmacists with advanced clinical skills training to work directly with GP practices, and support use of digital services by GP practices.
Until March 2017, new models of care in rural areas will also be tested. These include multi-practice models for the provision of GP and out-of-hours care, such as those currently located in West Lochaber (comprising GP practices based in Mallaig, Acharacle and the small isles) and on the Isle of Islay (centred around the community hospital and care home).
Other initiatives proposed by the first minister include:
- A new national clinical strategy for the NHS
- A £41.6m investment in health visitors
- Strengthened whistleblowing arrangements.
More generally for Scotland’s rural communities, the minister has launched a public consultation on plans for more autonomy for Scotland’s islands to help shape the content of a future Islands Bill. A new rural housing fund also aims to provide affordable housing and encourage upgrading of empty properties.