Talks to cement plans for a Scottish version of the GP contract are underway north or the border.
Minister for Public Health in Scotland, Michael Matheson, said discussions with professional bodies were taking place and the outcome of a possible referendum on independence would not affect the prospect of a contract tailored to Scotland’s needs.
Speaking exclusively to MiP at sister title Nursing in Practice’s annual conference in Glasgow, Matheson said ministers want certain aspects of the GP contract to be “adapted” to “better suit the needs of patients in Scotland” rather than a total overhaul as was previously thought.
“A variation of the UK GP contract is clearly needed as there are distinctly different needs around primary healthcare and public health issues in Scotland – such as smoking and obesity,” he said.
“Professional bodies in Scotland have been very open to discussing the way in which we can do this.”
The British Medical Association’s (BMA) Scottish General Practitioner’s Committee (SGPC) said that it has not met health ministers to discuss any changes to the existing GP contract.
Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA’s SGPC defended the current contract which “already includes a degree of flexibility” to meet Scotland’s needs.
“As yet, there is very little detailed information on the Government’s plans to for the GP contract.,” he said in a statement to MiP.
“While we welcome the open dialogue with the Cabinet Secretary and Public Health Minister, it is vital that changes to the GP contract are evidence based and are negotiated and agreed with us as representatives of the GP profession in Scotland.”
Matheson said changes to the framework of the GP contract to allow “a more tailored approach” is necessary to enable GPs to take a lead role in tackling public health issues specific to Scotland.
By Louise Naughton