Survey to ‘spark debate’ on primary care in Scotland

Doctors leaders have welcomed a cross-party inquiry into the future of primary care in Scotland, saying it is an opportunity to make sure the new GP contract delivers for practices and patients.

Scottish GPs committee chair Andrew Buist said the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee investigation should consider the challenges faced by GPs, but should also look at solutions.

In particular, Dr Buist welcomed the ‘push’ to gather views from a wide range of people on how primary care should develop for the future, saying it was vital that the public be involved.

Health and Sport Committee convener Lewis Macdonald said he wanted to spark a national debate. ‘Undoubtedly, there is a need for the delivery of primary care to adapt and the committee feels that this is the right time to take a comprehensive look at services in the primary care setting,’ Mr Macdonald said. 

‘At this important juncture for the next generation of care, the committee wants to engage a nationwide debate into what that care should look like and how it should be accessed and delivered.’

Dr Buist said there were challenges for all professionals involved in providing care in local communities, and the new Scotland-only GP contract should make a positive difference.

‘We firmly believe the contract and these multi-disciplinary teams working together to deliver the care that most effectively meets the needs of the patient is the foundation on which we must build the future of primary care. But of course, there is much work to do and we are in the early stages of implementing the first stage of the contract.

‘On that basis we are keen to work with all parties, including members of the health and sport committee, to ensure the contract can deliver a better future for GPs, and be part of the improvement across the whole of the primary care system that we all want to see,’ he said.

Carey Lunan, the chair of RCGP Scotland, also welcomed the announcement. ‘We have been asking for a de-politicised national conversation to be held, on the future of the NHS, for the past year. I very much hope this is the first major piece of that work.’

Views are invited on the future of primary care – the survey is open until 30 April.

Mr Macdonald said the committee would use people’s views to task the Scottish Government and health service providers to design and deliver care in the way people want it.

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