Skip to main content

25/06/15 10:00

Primary care investment

Three-year funding to support front-line community care

The Scottish Government has today announced details of how the Primary Care Fund will be used to support the primary care workforce, including GPs, and improve patient access to these services.

Over the next three years, £50 million will be invested to address immediate workload and recruitment issues, as well as putting in place long-term, sustainable change within primary care.

In addition, £10 million will be invested in primary care mental health services to encourage innovative ways of encouraging better identification and management of patients with mental health needs in the community.

Speaking during a visit to the Craigmillar Medical Group this morning, Health Secretary Shona Robison said that new investment was the beginning of the process towards designing primary care services for the future.

Ms Robison said: “Primary care services play a hugely important role in looking after the health of the nation, and GPs in particular are vital in delivering front line healthcare services in the community. However, I acknowledge that many GPs find workload and recruitment issues challenging, and we’ll keep working with the profession to address this.

“This £60 million of additional funding into primary care, is our first step towards addressing some of those immediate challenges, as we look to ensure our GP services are on a firm footing for the future.

“We’re working closely with BMA Scotland and the Royal College of GPs to take forward this work and I have been clear that I want to work with professionals across the health service, as well as patients and the public, to redesign our primary care services. That engagement has seen this funding go further than what was previously announced, expanding this to a three-year fund, rather than a one-off investment.

“The Primary Care Fund provides an initial impetus to encourage GPs to try new ways of working over the next three years, helping to address the problems of recruitment and retention that are common to primary care services across the UK.

“We’re also working on a completely new GP contract to be in place by 2017, which will implement much of the learning from the next few years to redesign these services in a collaborative way.

“Our commitment to having a public debate on the future of NHS services beyond 2020 will include a focus on what patients, the public and health professionals think about their primary care services and what models of care would work best.

“This announcement today signals our commitment to working constructively with the GP workforce to ensure services are fit for the future and meet the needs of the people of Scotland.”

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, said: “General practice is the cornerstone of the health service and it is vital that we invest in it now to ensure it is sustainable for the future. I welcome this funding which will help in taking forward our vision for the future of general practice in partnership with the Government. The additional resource will enable us to try out new ways of working that can deliver first class care for our patients and improve the working lives of GPs.

“As health and social care integration structures develop, investment in leadership training will provide GPs with additional skills to influence the design and delivery of community services for their patients.

“The recruitment of additional pharmacists working directly with GPs will provide much needed support and I would hope that in the long term this investment could be extended so that every practice in Scotland would be able to have a practice based pharmacist.”

Dr Elaine McNaughton, Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) Deputy Chair (Policy), said: “This week, RCGP Scotland released A blueprint for Scottish general practice and we are pleased to see some of its recommendations being followed.

“We will support all investment to increase recruitment to what is an extremely rewarding career choice but also believe that the situation requires a much larger response.

“We support a primary care investment fund which places necessary resource directly into general practice to develop services and new ways of working to meet the evolving needs of our patients. We welcome investment in the leadership programme to support GPs in leading the way forward for Integration. We are also pleased to see funding being strengthened to the Scottish School of Primary Care to support robust evaluation to ensure continuing quality of care in general practice in Scotland.”

Nicola McElvanney, Chair of Optometry Scotland said: “On behalf of Optometry Scotland and our members, we are delighted at the announcement of funding for pachymeters for all Community Optometrists in Scotland.

“This will aid Optometrists to better refine referrals for glaucoma and ocular hypertension that will impact on the capacity pressures affecting secondary care. This will enable more patients to be retained and managed in the community in accordance with the recently published SIGN guidelines for Glaucoma Referral and Safe Discharge”.

“This demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing a first class community based eye health care service in Scotland.”

Professor Stewart Mercer, Director of the Scottish School of Primary Care, said: “The Scottish School of Primary Care is delighted to hear the news of this funding, which will enable us to build on our strong track record of high quality research and evaluation in primary care. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to help build the evidence-base for an integrated, sustainable and equitable primary care system in Scotland.”

Notes to editors


The Primary Care Fund will be allocated to a number of key projects, including:

  • Primary Care Transformation Fund - £20.5 million will be allocated over the next three years to GP practices to prototype the new vision for the GP contract, including those wishing to use new ways of working to address current demand. This work will inform the design of primary care in the future.
  • Pharmacist Independent Prescribers - £16.2 million will be allocated to recruit up to 140 new Pharmacists, with advanced clinical skills training, who will work directly with GP practices to support the care of patients with long-term conditions and also free up GP time to spend with other patients.
  • GP Recruitment and Retention Programme - £2.5 million will be invested in a programme of work to explore with key stakeholders, the issues surrounding GP recruitment and retention. The three-year programme will examine and take forward proposals to increase the number of medical students choosing to go into GP training, as well as encouraging those wanting to work in rural and economically deprived areas. The Scottish Government will also continue its support for the Enhanced Returners Programme to support GPs wishing to return to the profession.
  • Digital Services Development Fund - £6 million will be allocated to support and accelerate the use of digital service by GP practices, including funding the development of online appointment booking and webGP.
  • Pachymeters for Optometrists - £1.5 million will be spent purchasing pachymeters for all optometrists in Scotland, enabling them to screen for patients suspected of developing glaucoma. This will further enhance the role of optometrists and help patients be treated in primary care who would previously have had to go to hospital.
  • Leadership Programme for GPs - £1.05 million will be used to further develop work already underway between the Royal College of GPs, NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council to develop a local leadership development and networking programme. This will equip GPs with the necessary skills to play a leading role in the development of local integration work.
  • Active and Independent Living Fund - £750,000 will be allocated to create three Allied Health Professional regional improvement advisors to support changes to frontline service so that AHPs can better support active and independent living.
  • Scottish School of Primary Care - £1.25 million will be invested in the Scottish School of Primary Care – a virtual school which encourages and co-ordinates a cohesive programme of research and training of primary care in Scotland.

The £10 million for mental health services in primary care was announced in May as part of an additional £85 million of funding for mental health services across the NHS: