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05/11/13 14:04

Improving GP access

£1 million to trial new models of primary care.

Improvements to primary care should lead to patients having better access to GPs, according to Health Secretary Alex Neil.

Speaking in a debate on person-centred care today (Tuesday), Mr Neil said he recognised that the current 48 hour target can be an issue, and that people are not always able to get prompt appointments.

In order to make improvements, Mr Neil announced a review of access to GP practices across Scotland, which will be undertaken in partnership with the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland.

A £1 million scheme, which is part of a modernisation programme, will also test different models of primary care.

In addition, the Scottish Government is already working closely with the British Medical Association (BMA) to modernise the existing GP contract.

A key part of this work will be to reduce bureaucracy and paperwork for GPs, in order to free up more time for them to spend with patients.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

“All care should be person-centred, which means that it should be focused on the individual person and what matters to them.

“Latest figures show that last year GPs and practice-employed nurses had 24.2 million consultations with patients across Scotland, and we need to improve the way we provide care throughout the whole of our NHS, from hospital to community care.

“As part of that I want to transform primary care, and improve the way the system works for both patients and staff.

“We know that getting appointments can be an issue and we know that the 48 hour access target can cause problems. We have a great opportunity at this time to make things better for Scotland.

“I am today asking my officials to work with the British Medical Association (BMA) to review access across all GP practices in Scotland and to develop an action plan to address any issues that arise from the review.

“I am also announcing today an initial tranche of £1 million to support a primary care programme which will work with health boards across Scotland to trial new models of care.

“But this is just the first stage. GPs should get the time to do what they really want to do – which is work with individuals to ensure that their medical care is right for them, for their family and carers, and for their local environment.

“To do this we intend to modernise the GP contract, and to transform our approach to primary care.

“Last year for the first time ever we negotiated a ‘more Scottish’ contract with the BMA. This allowed us to come to a negotiated agreement in Scotland that differed from that imposed on GPs by Westminster.

“This agreement has paved the way for a new approach. We are currently carefully considering with the BMA in Scotland what our future contract should look like.”

The £1 million programme will build on individual initiatives which are already working well, such as the ‘Deep End’ practices which deal with health inequalities, and NHS Highland’s work to test models of delivering rural healthcare.

These initiatives are designed to meet the challenges of an ageing population, health inequalities, and the need to support people to live at home for as long as possible.