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13/02/19 09:30

£50m support for GP practices

Help to make general practice more attractive. 

An additional £20 million will be invested in extra support to help GPs with the cost of running their practices, making a total investment of £50 million over the next two years.

The GP premises sustainability loan scheme is in direct response to concerns raised by the BMA, and aims to ease the financial burden associated with owning a practice, in turn helping improve recruitment and retention. It means GPs who own their own premises can apply for long term interest-free loans worth up to 20% of the practice’s value.

A total of 172 practices have successfully applied for loans – around 50% of the total eligible.

Speaking at Allander Surgery in Glasgow, which is set to benefit from the scheme, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“The Scottish Government greatly values the contribution the GP profession makes to the nation’s health, and that’s why we want to make sure they have the support they need.

“Both the BMA and individual GPs have raised concerns with us about the financial risk of owning premises. So we have responded directly, and this scheme helps to ‘de-risk’ general practice and reduce some of the up-front costs GPs can face when joining a practice.

“In doing so, I hope this will make becoming a GP partner more attractive, making it easier to recruit new GPs to a practice. This in turn will contribute to our commitment to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.”

Dr Andrew Buist, Chair of BMA Scotland’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee said:

“At the heart of the new GP contract introduced last year was a clear aim to make becoming a GP a more attractive career choice and encourage more people into working in this part of the profession.

“Key to that is reducing risk and financial burdens around choosing to be a GP. This funding is a great example of this principle in action – and the practical benefits that the contract has secured for GPs.

“I am sure it will make a real difference for GPs across Scotland, as the popularity of the scheme has shown. While there is still much work to do to transform what it means to be a GP, I believe that through the new contract we are finally restoring hope to the profession.”

Background:

The scheme reduces the risk of premise ownership – something raised as a common concern among GPs. It is part of a move towards GPs no longer being required to own a property. Agreed between the Scottish Government and the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP Committee, the initiative runs alongside the new GP contract.

The GP Premises Loan Scheme opened in November 2018 and is backed with £30 million of Scottish Government funding. Today’s announcement takes the total investment to £50 million before April 2021.

Under the initiative, funding is available up to 20% of the practice’s value. The loan is repayable when the premises are no longer used for providing primary care medical services under an NHS contract, or when they are sold.

The new GP contract is backed by £110 million in 2018/19 and introduces multi-disciplinary teams to practices to ensure GPs are able to spend more time with patients, and less time on bureaucracy. A further £7.5 million is being invested in improving GP recruitment and retention in 2018/19.