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Sturgeon plans ‘Scottish-only’ GP contract

9 January 2012

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The Scottish Government plans to take greater control over GP contract negotiations in a bid to protect the “founding principles” of the NHS.

Amid the proposed health reforms taking place in England, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said a Scottish-only GP contract would allow for better, more integrated care.

Sturgeon claimed the government reforms will “threaten” the contract’s ability to ensure Scottish patients “receive quality care”.

GP contracts are currently negotiated on a UK-wide basis, and the “vast majority” of the £714m allocated to the Scottish GP contract pot is done so with the UK in mind.

It is hoped around three-quarters of this sum will be negotiated separately for Scotland under the new proposals, allowing Scottish GPs to be “less constrained” in tackling some of Scotland’s biggest health inequalities.

“Given the scale of the challenges we face, and the changes in England, the time is now right to ask ourselves whether it is still appropriate [for Scottish GP contracts to be negotiated on a UK basis]. I do not believe that it is,” said Sturgeon.

“I believe that we should protect the founding principles of the national health service. I do not think we should stand by and allow a vital part of our NHS system to be governed by a contract increasingly tailored to suit a market driven model we do not share.

“With increased connections to the rest of Scotland’s health service, a contract focused much more on Scottish priorities will allow our GPs to play an even more central role in helping to tackle Scotland’s health inequalities.”

The “repatriation” of certain aspects of the annual negotiation will still allow for good clinical care indictors to be discussed on a UK-wide basis, Sturgeon claimed.

She has committed to open discussions with the British Medical Association and GPs around the country over the coming months to hear views on the proposals.

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“They should be split. This would seem to be in keeping with the principle of health services being devolved in Scotland” – Michael Docherty, Glasgow