Record number of Scottish practices handed back their contracts in 2016

GP partners at 52 practices in Scotland had to surrender their contract to a health board in 2016 - an average of one practice a week - because pressures meant they were 'unable to meet their obligations'.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack (Photo: Pete Hill)
RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack (Photo: Pete Hill)

This is the highest number of GP contracts handed back to health boards recorded for a single year.

The affected practices are still operational, but are now run by the health board under what is known as a 2c contract.

However, RCGP Scotland warned that changing to a 2c contract impacts negatively on patient care, is less value for money and means there is less continuity of care for patients.

In the 10 years from 2007 to 2016, the number of patients registered at a 2c practice nearly doubled from 83,000 to 160,000.

The rise means almost 3% of patients in Scotland now attend a practice run by the local health board.

Scottish contracts

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said: ‘Right across Scotland, GP practices are being forced to close their doors or hand their contracts back to health boards.

‘The RCGP is particularly concerned over the impact that changing to 2c has on patient care and on lost value for money in healthcare services. In particular, it means that GPs are no longer in a leadership role and there is less continuity of care for patients.

‘Patients’ GP services have been the target of disinvestment for over a decade, falling from 9.8% of NHS Scotland’s spending in 2005/6 to just 7.2% in 2015/16, the last year we have figures for.

‘Sufficient action must be taken to fill the projected shortfall of 856 GPs across Scotland by 2021. To fund that appropriately we need 11% of NHS Scotland’s budget to go to general practice services.

Dr Mack said that the Scottish government’s Govan SHIP (social and health integration partnership) project, which covers four practices in Glasgow that are among the 100 'Deep End' practices serving the most socio-economically deprived populations in Scotland, has shown how much patients can benefit from increased GP funding.

'Funding for wider primary care, already at 23% of NHS Scotland’s budget, also could be increased,' he added.

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