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BMA: Scotland faces a GP premises ‘crisis’

22 March 2012

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The British Medical Association (BMA) has accused the Scottish Government of failing to address a “GP premises crisis”, said to be stifling the development of services in local communities. 

While the report General Practice in Scotland: the way ahead outlines the organisation’s criticism over the lack of a “coherent premises strategy” from the government, it also praises the success of policies on GP access, service improvements for NHS24 and health and social care integration.

Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said it would be “difficult” to provide the range of services and treatments that patients need without “adequate” premises. 

“In the 21st Century it is wholly inappropriate that doctors are consulting patients in sub-standard rooms,” he said. 

Dr Marshall added there is a lack of “common sense” in the absence of a requirement for planning departments to consider the impact of new housing developments on local health services.

“We have been trying for years to get local authority planners to tell us about significant developments to allow the health service to plan,” said Dr David Bell, Secretary of Grampian Local Medical Committee.

“We are now likely to have a new town south of Aberdeen and this will overwhelm the existing primary care and GP provision for the area.  Since there is no method in the GP contract to start up a practice with financial support, this will create a major issue for the service.”

A spokesperson from the Scottish government welcomed the BMA’s recognition of the progress made on primary care services.

“We have invested £75m in practices since 2008 through our primary care modernisation programme and a further £250m of community based health projects are being delivered,” they said.

The spokesperson also claimed the move to make NHS Boards statutory consultees within the planning process, combined with joint developing work on joint asset planning and management, will “strengthen the planning of facilities which support the delivery of services for local communities”.