Ru­ral GPs warn cuts could see surg­eries’ ‘ex­tinc­tion’.

HEALTH: New govern­ment con­tract ‘will slash fund­ing by up to two-thirds’

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GareTh mcpher­soN po­liT­i­cal ed­i­Tor gm­cpher­son@the­courier.co.uk

Surg­eries in re­mote parts of Tay­side and Fife are “fac­ing ex­tinc­tion” from a new GP con­tract that slashes their fund­ing, say ru­ral doc­tors.

A ma­jor­ity of the Ru­ral GP As­so­ci­a­tion of Scot­land’s mem­ber­ship say their prac­tices would be “crit­i­cally un­vi­able” un­der plans to re­duce their fund­ing by up to two-thirds.

The Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion in Scot­land, which is draw­ing up the new deal with SNP min­is­ters, re­acted an­grily to what it called “com­pletely un­true” claims from RGPAS.

David Hogg, chair­man of RGPAS, said ru­ral parts of Courier Coun­try will be af­fected by a fund­ing for­mula tilted in favour of ur­ban prac­tices.

He said: “While we’re de­lighted some of our city-based GP col­leagues will see a much-needed boost to their re­sources, it is very wrong that this should be at the ex­pense of ru­ral gen­eral prac­tice.

“Ru­ral GP teams pro­vide a much wider range of ser­vices as we of­fer many treat­ments that would nor­mally be pro­vided in hos­pi­tal. Much of this work re­mains un­funded.”

Dr Hogg said the deal left prac­tices “fac­ing ex­tinc­tion” and would com­pound the re­cruit­ment cri­sis al­ready ham­per­ing fam­ily prac­tices.

The new con­tract – which has been agreed be­tween the Scot­tish Govern­ment and the BMA – is due to come into force in April.

It aims to cut work­load and make it eas­ier to run prac­tices, in­clud­ing a fund to help doc­tors buy or lease premises, and mea­sures to cut pa­per­work.

RGPAS said there were “large gaps” be­tween al­lo­cated fund­ing and pro­tected in­come, and “un­cer­tain­ties” over the lat­ter, which makes up the ma­jor­ity of sup­port.

The body said the new fund­ing for­mula is un­fairly based on ap­point­ment num­bers – and does not fac­tor in the unique chal­lenges faced by ru­ral GPs.

Dr Alan McDe­vitt, chair­man of BMA Scot­land’s GP com­mit­tee, dis­missed the claims last night, in­sist­ing that no ru­ral prac­tices would lose fund­ing.

He said: “It is com­pletely un­true to sug­gest that any prac­tice in Scot­land will see a re­duc­tion in fund­ing and ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing that this mis­in­for­ma­tion is be­ing cir­cu­lated.”

Dr McDe­vitt added: “The pro­posed GP con­tract en­sures that ev­ery GP prac­tice will have in­creased or pro­tected fund­ing and if phase two is agreed, the higher ex­penses of ru­ral prac­tices will be di­rectly re­im­bursed.”

GPs across the coun­try will be able to vote in a poll on the new con­tract in the next few weeks.

Mean­while in Holy­rood, the Scot­tish Govern­ment avoided de­feat in a de­bate on GP short­ages.

The coun­try faces a short­fall of 856 fam­ily doc­tors by 2021, ac­cord­ing to the Royal Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers.

The Con­ser­va­tives claimed SNP min­is­ters had failed to act on “con­sis­tent and re­peated” warn­ings.

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son said they had come up with a “game-chang­ing new GP con­tract of­fer”.

She added: “We are in­vest­ing in the here and now and we are plan­ning ahead for the chal­lenges to come.”

Dr Alan McDe­vitt says it is wrong to sug­gest prac­tices will lose funds un­der the plans.

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