Moves by the Scottish government to bar commercial firms from bidding to provide GP services have been welcomed by GPs, but attacked by the Scottish CBI, which accused ministers of discriminating against the private sector.
The government plans to change the law to ensure general practice is provided by those with "a direct interest in the patients they treat and in the good of the wider NHS", health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said.
Commenting on the move, Dr Dean Marshall (pictured), chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said: "The measures proposed by the government in this consultation seek to protect NHS general practice and are very welcome and I am pleased that the health secretary recognises the importance of general practice as the cornerstone of the NHS.
"General practice, delivered under the auspices of the NHS will ensure that patient care comes before profit and patients can be assured of continuity of care."
However, Dr Marshall warned that, in order to maintain services to patients, the Scottish government "must ensure that it develops and delivers a clear strategy for general practice in partnership with the profession".
A spokesman for CBI Scotland said: "Many GPs are already privately contracting to the NHS. Why should others in the private sector be discriminated against?"
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