The Royal College of General Practitioners has warned that GP practices could miss out on over £250 million worth of funding that was previously promised by the Scottish government.
The RCGP warns that there is considerable risk of practice closures in the current climate.
While waiting times for patients’ appointments are also set to increase, according to the authoritative organisation.
The Royal College thus calls on funding funding for the service to be increased, having accused the government of allowing confusion to reign over delays related to new funding.
Previously, the Scottish government indicated that around half of a £500 million package of support may no longer be diverted into general practice.
Nicola Sturgeon promised to increase the share of NHS funding in Scotland spent on general practice to 11%, as demanded by the RCGP.
“By 2021, an extra half billion pounds will be invested in our GP practices and health centres,” Sturgeon commented.
Yet ministers and officials now assert that just half that will be used “in direct support of general practice”, to fund multidisciplinary working, workforce and practice investment, which they state was agreed with the BMA.
The college has said the term ‘in direct support’ is “too broad and lacks sufficient clarity”.
It is believed that the £250 million which is not specifically destined for practices will instead be invested in primary care.
However, this could include general practice or services related to the support of GPs.
In a submission to the Scottish parliament’s health committee consultation on NHS innovation, the RCGP warned that over a decade of cuts to general practice’s share of NHS funding was a barrier to innovation.
Responding to the issue, a government spokesperson outlined the policy of the Scottish authorities.
“As the first minister announced last year, a further £500m will be invested in primary care by the end of this parliament. This spending increase in primary care, to 11% of the frontline NHS budget, will support the development of a multi-disciplinary approach, with increased staffing as well as investment in GP services and health centres.”
The statement went on to outline some of the policies of the government towards general practice in Scotland.
“Health secretary Shona Robison recently set out that £250m of this new investment will be in direct support of general practice, helping to transform the way services are delivered in the community – an approach that was agreed with the BMA. In this financial year, over £71m of that funding is to support general practice by improving recruitment and retention, reducing workload, developing new ways of delivering services and covering pay and expenses.”