General practice in Scotland will receive an extra £500 million by 2021, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has announced.
Speaking at the SNP conference yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said the increase amounts to half of Scotland’s health budget and 11% of the total NHS spend over the next five years.
The First Minister of Scotland said: “By the end of this parliament, we will increase spending on primary care services to 11% of the frontline NHS budget. That's what doctors have said is needed. And it is what we will deliver.
“And let me be clear what that means. By 2021, an extra half billion pounds will be invested in our GP practices and health centres.
“And it means, for the first time ever, that half of the health budget will be spent, not in acute hospitals, but in the community - delivering primary, community and social care.”
In a statement, the Scottish Government confirmed that the increased investment in primary care will support the development of a multi-disciplinary approach to primary care, with increased staffing as well as investment in GP services and health centres.
The announcement reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment to shift the balance of care away from hospitals and towards primary and community services.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the GP Committee at the British Medical Association in Scotland said the announcement was “hugely encouraging”.
He said: "The BMA is in the process of negotiating a new GP contract for Scotland based upon a vision of GPs working with an expanded primary care team, easing the incredible workload pressures facing GPs and ensuring that patients are seen by the most appropriate healthcare professional.
"That step change in primary care will only be achieved with the right level of investment and it is clear from today's announcement that the Scottish Government has listened to the voices of doctors and responded to our calls for action.”
Dr Miles Mack, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in Scotland said the injection of funding “has the potential to transform the delivery of general practice in Scotland.”
However, he added that “the devil will be in the detail” and the RCGP would want to see that money spent on tackling the GP shortfall that is expected to reach 828 by 2021.
He said: “We also need to recruit extra members of the wider primary care team to be based in general practice, and immediate support for those practices who are struggling right now.”