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Scottish workforce plans are “particularly challenging” in rural areas, watchdog concludes

GMS contract must be monitored for its rural impact

September 12th 2019

Tagged: political news Scotland

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Putting the workforce in place to deliver Scotland’s primary care plans will be particularly challenging in rural areas, a report by the Auditor General has said. In its second NHS workforce planning report, the watchdog finds that staff availability has been identified as a main barrier to delivering integrated care plans. Competition for “the same limited workforce… may cause additional recruitment challenges in rural areas, where recruitment is already difficult,” the report concludes. In addition, rural areas such as Argyll and Bute, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are already more reliant than other areas on non-UK-licensed doctors. Commonly reported challenges in filling GP vacancies in 2017 included a shortage of applicants and the fact that the practice was in a rural area. Among its recommendations, the Auditor General calls for the Scottish Government to monitor the impact of the GMS contract in rural areas. It says: “Rural GPs have expressed concerns that the formula will have a disproportionate impact on rural GP practices, as under the new workload calculation they are less likely to receive an increase in funding than urban practices. “ The report also notes that the impact assessment suggesting a positive impact of the new contract on rural practices “does not fully acknowledge potential risks [as] it does not set out how any negative impact could be monitored, or concerns addressed.”

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