RCGP Scotland has called for 11% of Scottish NHS funding to be allocated to general practice to help tackle health inequalities, improve GP recruitment into areas of deprivation which traditionally struggle to attract GPs, and reduce pressure on vital hospital services.
The new report, From the Frontline, draws on feedback from GPs across Scotland and their thoughts and experiences within the profession and has identified six key calls:
- Provide time to care. GPs must be given the time they need to care for their patients. 10-minute appointments do not work for an increasing number of patients or GPs. Minimum 15-minute appointments as standard would enable patients to have more choice over their care, especially when they have multiple conditions. This would be achieved only by the introduction of more GPs into the system in Scotland.
- Safeguard the future of the NHS in Scotland. We need a National Conversation, led jointly by politicians, healthcare professionals and patients, to promote sustainable use of the NHS and safeguard its future.
- Tackle health inequalities. GPs serving areas with high socio-economic deprivation should be appropriately resourced to ensure that the NHS is at its best where patients need it most. This will be possible when 11% of the Scottish NHS budget is allocated to general practice.
- Planning for the future workforce: As our population lives longer with more long-term conditions, Scotland needs more GP capacity to build and lead our community healthcare teams. In order to accurately assess and plan the workforce needs for Scotland's future, the Scottish Government must collect figures and report on Whole Time Equivalent GPs, not simple headcount figures, so that workforce plans of the future are accurately and reliably informed.
- Improve healthcare systems for the benefit of patients and GPs. Urgent investment in IT is required to ensure that systems work more effectively together, improving reliability for clinicians and patients.
- Promote Scottish general practice to a new generation of doctors. Investment is required to enable 25% of the undergraduate medical school curriculum to be delivered in primary care.
RCGP Scotland Chair, Dr Carey Lunan, said: "General practice is at the frontline of the NHS, playing a crucial role in providing care to patients in the heart of communities across Scotland. GPs tell us that workload pressures, rising patient demand and underinvestment in general practice are having a significant impact on them and their patients.
"Nearly forty per cent of GPs report that they feel so overwhelmed by their daily tasks that they feel they cannot cope at least once per week. A quarter also report that they are unlikely to be working in general practice in five years' time."
GPs are the first line of defence for our country against ill-health
Dr Andrew Buist, Chair of BMA Scotland's General Practitioners Committee, said that GPs are the first line of defence for our country against ill-health, and they need more support in tackling health inequalities.
He added: "This report underlines why addressing GP workload, which has in recent years reached unsustainable levels, is so vital if we are to protect and grow GP numbers. That has been the BMA's priority in negotiating the new GP contract and now it is essential that the promises made to GPs on additional staff and services are delivered by health boards and the Scottish Government."
From the Frontline is accompanied by a new campaign from RCGP Scotland called #RenewGP.