Highland GPs ‘are completely betrayed’ by new contract
FAMILY doctors in the Highlands feel “completely betrayed” by the funding split at the heart of the new GP contract, a leading medic has warned.
Dr Iain Kennedy, medical secretary of the Highland Local Medical Committee (LMC) and a North Scotland GP representative on the BMA Scottish Council, made the comment after revelations the vast majority of rural practices will get no extra income while urban GP partners receive estimated average uplifts of £10,200 each.
Dr Kennedy said: “For our members in Highland, it almost feels like a knife has been twisted. Not only are we being moved in the direction of a salaried-type contract that none of us want, but furthermore we’re now discovering that resources would appear to be getting diverted from our members in Highland towards more affluent urban practices in the Central Belt.
“My members are increasingly angry, disillusioned and disappointed.”
It comes after The Herald revealed an analysis of the new contract’s workload-based funding allocation formula by Oban GP, Dr Erik Jespersen. He said it would mean only 68 per cent of GP partners in Scotland will share in a £23.2 million taxpayer-funded windfall, while the rest – largely in rural areas and some in Scotland’s most deprived practices – would get nothing.
The rise equates to a 10.2 per cent hike per partner, or £10,239 based on an average full-time partner salary of £100,000. Dr Jespersen also warned “a majority” of GP partners will use the cash to boost their salaries, rather than invest it in their practices.
The BMA disputes Dr Jespersen’s calculations, but the GP said it was the most accurate estimate possible based on the most recent workforce data for Scotland. His view has been corroborated by several healthcare statisticians.
A vote on whether to accept the new contract will take place on January 18 at a meeting of the Scottish GP Committee (SGPC). It follows a national ballot of GPs, which closed on January 4.
Dr Kennedy wrote to Health Secretary Shona Robison and the BMA before Christmas asking that a regional breakdown of the poll results be shared with SGPC members before they vote, amid fears that the contract is creating a bitter split in the profession.
He said he was “confident” this would now be agreed to on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs, said the potential GP pay hike risked making lower-paid NHS workers feel “left behind or under-valued”.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the BMA Scotland’s GP Committee, said: “If implemented, the changes to the workload formula will address the situation that currently sees many GP practices underfunded for the amount of work that they carry out, particularly in relation to elderly patients and those in deprived areas.
“This underfunding impacts on the level of service that practices are able to provide to their patients and in a number of cases has contributed to practices handing back their contract to the health board. The proposed contract will ensure every practice in Scotland has their finances protected, while providing more support to practices with under-resourced higher workloads.”
How The Herald reported on fears for rural practices yesterday.