RCGP Scotland comment on Programme for Government 2020-21

Publication date: 02 September 2020

Commenting on the announcement of the Programme for Government 2020/21, Dr Carey Lunan, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland (RCGP Scotland) commented:

“This year’s Programme for Government has been delivered during exceptional circumstances, with the country facing the biggest health and economic challenge of our lifetime. There are many welcome announcements within this year’s programme, in particular the launch of a workforce specialist service, which will offer additional specialist support to manage the mental health needs of those working in health and social care.

There is a clear drive within this year’s Programme for Government to deliver more patient consultations remotely. Over the last few months, GPs and their teams have adapted rapidly to delivering care remotely, either over the phone or via video consultations. These options can work well for patients who have access to technology and are confident in using it. It may also be a more convenient option for those who live in remote areas and may struggle to access transport. However, for many patients speaking to their GP by phone or video does not work as well because their problems are more complex, more difficult to describe or more personal in nature. Certain groups of patients particularly struggle with this type of consultation, for instance those living with sensory impairment, those who have English as a second language, those with cognitive difficulties, the frail or elderly and also those who have less readily available access to technology. Although many patients surveyed report that they like using video consultations, many also report that they miss the face to face contact with GPs and GPs miss it too. Building relationships with patients and their families is why many have chosen a career in general practice.  

As we look to the future of healthcare delivery in Scotland, it is important that while remote consultations remain available as an option for patients who feel that they work well for them, remote appointments aren’t viewed as the silver bullet solution to the challenges facing general practice.

Digital consulting is still in its infancy and there are still many unanswered questions in terms of its impact on potential worsening of existing health inequalities and the longer-term impact on patient care and health outcomes. It is important that time and resource is given to fully evaluating the impact of switching to digital consulting on both patients and GPs and their teams.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and others to ensure that general practice has the tools and resources it requires to continue to deliver the highest standard of care for patients – be that remotely or face to face.”

Further Information

Media requests to Lizzie Edwards, Policy and Campaigns Manager.

Tel: 07787 216842

Email: lizzie.edwards@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

RCGP Scotland represents a network of around 5,000 doctors in Scotland aiming to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standard of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on resources, education, training, research and clinical standards.

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