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Scottish GP funding gap ‘dangerous’

4 November 2014

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GPs in Scotland are being inadequately funded, which could lead to “dangerous consequences for patients” the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has claimed. 

A study released by RCGP Scotland suggests that one in four patients are unable to get an appointment with their GP within a week. 

A quarter of people surveyed said they cannot get an appointment in a week, and when this happens 11% of people would neither take a later appointment nor seek help somewhere else. 

RCGP also highlighted figures from the Health and Experience Survey, run by the government, which showed patients were unable to see a doctor or nurse for three working days on more than 3.3 million occasions. 

Next year’s draft budget shows a real-terms funding drop of 2.2% for GPs, the body has said. But the Scottish government claims GP funding is currently at an all time high. 

Dr John Gillies, RCGP Scotland chair said: “Further cuts to the resources GPs have with which to care for patients can only exacerbate the problem.

“A real-terms drop in funding share of 2.2%, as outlined in the Draft Budget 2015/16, can only deepen the current, very real crisis. This drop stands directly against the 71% of Scots who would like to see funding move from other parts of the health service to general practice.

“General practice requires 11% of the NHS spend to adequately look after our patients. If the situation is not rectified, the consequences for the NHS in Scotland and for patients could be even more severe.”

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “This year our £8.2m increase in funding for the GP contract was double that recommended by the GPs’ pay body, and was warmly welcomed by the BMA. Last year, 87% of patients rated their overall experience of care by the GP surgery as excellent or good.

“While this is a strong record, we are continuing to improve access and the latest GP contract substantially cuts bureaucracy to allow GPs more time with patients.

“It also requires every single GP surgery in Scotland to review their access arrangements to ensure patients could get prompt access to appointments.”