McArthur: Budget fails to resource GP services

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has warned that GP practices in Orkney must be properly resourced, as the Scottish Government budget fails to allocate much-needed resources to GP services.

Mr McArthur has echoed the disappointment of the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) that the budget failed to provide a step towards appropriate funding for GP services in 2016-17.

Commenting, Orkney’s MSP said:

“The Scottish Government has set out a vision for primary care, saying patients should be able to access health care as much as possible in their local communities. I believe this is the correct approach, however, with a shift in of care to the community there needs to be a shift in resources.

“GP practices in Orkney must be properly resourced in order to provide the best quality of care that people in Orkney deserve. Even the Health Secretary admitted last week the way primary care services are delivered is not working, it is therefore regrettable her voice was not listened to around the Cabinet table.”


Notes to editors:

Speaking from Parliament, Dr Miles Mack, Chair of RCGP Scotland, said:

“GPs and patients across Scotland will be bemused that the Scottish Government has confirmed a further reduction in the percentage funding share of NHS Scotland spending that general practice services are to receive. As we made clear earlier this week, GPs, staff and infrastructure have seen a decade of chronic underinvestment. Currently, patients are living with the consequences of that, for example a GP recruitment crisis, and having to wait three weeks or more to see their doctor.

“We were encouraged when Mr Swinney said in the Scottish Parliament on 10 February that he would reflect on funding for general practice. He has delivered nothing.

“We have now seen a full decade of loss to the percentage share general practice receives from NHS Scotland spending. In 2005/06 it was 9.8%. The share last year stood at 7.4% and this Budget confirms a further decline for 2016/17. Patients should ask questions of their representatives as to what the plan is for general practice in Scotland.

“We have continually warned, in private and publicly, that general practice simply cannot continue along these lines. Scottish Government’s plans for more community based care will not be met and patient care and safety will now suffer. How can the government’s own 2020 Vision, which relies so heavily on the work of GPs, come into being with such an underfunded and overworked GP service?

“As a result of this persistent underfunding we have fewer GPs, longer waiting times to see them and patients getting by with reduced services.

“Since 2014 our Put patients first: Back general practice campaign has been calling for the 11% of NHS Scotland funding that general practice needs. We know that 71% of the electorate agree with us.

“We called for a relatively small and achievable addition to funding for this year, an extra 0.5% of NHS Scotland spending, to be provided directly to grassroots GP services. It would have been the right thing to do for our patients and for the profession as it struggles to cope right around the country. We showed earlier this week how this budget meant general practice would have missed out on £1.6 billion it would have received had funding remained at a steady 9.8% share of NHS Scotland spending over the last ten years. Unless urgent action is taken to reverse this trend and increase the share of funding received we can only see the pressures general practice is under, and the knock on affects to our patients, getting worse.”

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