MSPs yesterday (27 January 2010) voted to approve a bill preventing commercial companies from running GP practices in Scotland.
The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament. The bill amends the 1978 NHS Act by removing the ability for commercial companies to hold primary medical services contracts. In England, it is this clause that has allowed the expansion of commercially provided NHS GP services.
Dr Dean Marshall (pictured), a GP in Midlothian and Chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GPs’ Committee, said: “Doctors across Scotland welcome this commitment to a publicly provided and delivered NHS.
“Accountability to a commercial employer and short-term contracts are an uncertain basis for the long-term relationship between professionals and patients upon which effective primary care depends.
“Every year in Scotland, more than 20 million patient consultations take place in GP practices with a team of highly skilled individuals. For most patients, their GP is their first and only point of contact in the NHS system.
“It is important to value the quality of general practice in Scotland and celebrate its success. Now that there is a commitment to NHS general practice, the government must work with primary healthcare professionals to make sure that the service is the best it can be.”