Scotland's GPs call for 11% of NHS funding to tackle health inequalities in communities

Publication date: 05 June 2019

RCGP Scotland has today called for 11% of Scottish NHS funding to be allocated to general practice to help tackle health inequalities.

The call comes as RCGP Scotland launches a new report, From the Frontline [PDF], which draws on feedback from GPs across Scotland and their thoughts and experiences within the profession.

RCGP Scotland Chair, Dr Carey Lunan, said:

"General practice is at the frontline of the NHS, playing a crucial role in providing care to patients in the heart of communities across Scotland. GPs tell us that workload pressures, rising patient demand and underinvestment in general practice are having a significant impact on them and their patients.

"Nearly forty percent of GPs report that they feel so overwhelmed by their daily tasks that they feel they cannot cope at least once per week. A quarter also report that they are unlikely to be working in general practice in five years' time.

"General practice is the backbone of a sustainable NHS. Our patients deserve better and it is time to renew general practice in Scotland. We are calling on Scottish Government to commit to urgently bolster the GP workforce and increase the level of spending in general practice to 11% of the overall Scottish NHS budget. Taking these steps will help ensure that general practice is able to provide high quality patient care that meets the current, and future, needs of patients in Scotland. This is fundamental to meeting the Scottish Government's own aim of delivering more healthcare at home, or in a homely setting.

"With an increase to 11% of the NHS budget, additional GP funding would flow to the areas of highest patient need. This will help to tackle the root causes of health inequalities, improve GP recruitment into areas of deprivation which traditionally struggle to attract GPs, and reduce pressure on vital hospital services."

Also welcoming the new report, Dr Andrew Buist, Chair of BMA Scotland's General Practitioners Committee, said:

"General Practitioners work tirelessly to ensure that their communities are living healthy lives, and even against the backdrop of underinvestment in healthcare, rising patient demand, and increased workload, they do a sterling job.

"They are the first line of defence for our country against ill-health, and they need more support in tackling health inequalities. This report underlines why addressing GP workload, which has in recent years reached unsustainable levels, is so vital if we are to protect and grow GP numbers. That has been the BMA's priority in negotiating the new GP contract and now it is essential that the promises made to GPs on additional staff and services are delivered by health boards and the Scottish Government."

From the Frontline is accompanied by a new campaign from RCGP Scotland called #RenewGP. In addition to calling for 11% of the Scottish NHS budget to make Scottish general practice fit for the future, the campaign identifies six key calls:

  • Provide time to care. GPs must be given the time they need to care for their patients. 10-minute appointments do not work for an increasing number of patients or GPs. Minimum 15-minute appointments as standard would enable patients to have more choice over their care, especially when they have multiple conditions. This would be achieved only by the introduction of more GPs into the system in Scotland.
  • Safeguard the future of the NHS in Scotland. We need a National Conversation, led jointly by politicians, healthcare professionals and patients, to promote sustainable use of the NHS and safeguard its future.
  • Tackle health inequalities. GPs serving areas with high socio-economic deprivation should be appropriately resourced to ensure that the NHS is at its best where patients need it most. This will be possible when 11% of the Scottish NHS budget is allocated to general practice.
  • Planning for the future workforce: As our population lives longer with more long-term conditions, Scotland needs more GP capacity to build and lead our community healthcare teams. In order to accurately assess and plan the workforce needs for Scotland's future, the Scottish Government must collect figures and report on Whole Time Equivalent GPs, not simple headcount figures, so that workforce plans of the future are accurately and reliably informed.
  • Improve healthcare systems for the benefit of patients and GPs. Urgent investment in IT is required to ensure that systems work more effectively together, improving reliability for clinicians and patients.
  • Promote Scottish general practice to a new generation of doctors. Investment is required to enable 25% of the undergraduate medical school curriculum to be delivered in primary care.

Reflecting on the new campaign, Dr Lunan said:

"General practice in Scotland needs to be properly funded if it is to continue to provide the high-quality care that meets the current, and future, needs of patients. We have identified key areas where improvement needs to happen and will continue to work with colleagues in Scottish Government, BMA Scotland and the NHS to ensure the best outcomes for both patients and GPs."

Further Information

Mike Andrews
Policy and Public Affairs Officer
020 3188 7738
07741 665 226

Notes to editor

  1. RCGP Scotland represents a network of around 5,000 family doctors in Scotland aiming to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on resources, education, training, research and clinical standards.
  2. Read the From the Frontline [PDF]
  3. Read RCGP Scotland's #RenewGP campaign

The item has been added to your basket.

Continue shopping

Go to basket

This item is out of stock.

Continue shopping

The item is out of stock.

Yes Continue shopping

An error occured adding your item to the basket:

Continue shopping