FAMILY doctors in the Highlands feel “completely betrayed” by the funding split at the heart of the new GP contract, a leading medic has warned.
Dr Iain Kennedy, medical secretary of the Highland Local Medical Committee (LMC) and a North Scotland GP representative on the BMA Scottish Council, said they felt like a “knife has been twisted” amid revelations that the vast majority of rural practices will get no extra income while GP partners in the Central Belt and cities receive estimated average uplifts of £10,200 each.
Dr Kennedy said: “The figures that we’re seeing are confirming what we’ve always suspected and how it feels for our members in Highland is that it almost feels like a knife has been twisted.
“Not only are we being moved in the direction of a salaried-type contract that none of us want, but furthermore we’re now discovering that resources would appear to be getting diverted from our members in Highland towards more affluent urban practices in the Central Belt.
“My members are increasingly angry, disillusioned and disappointed, and feel completely betrayed.”
It comes after the Herald revealed an analysis of the new contract’s workload-based funding allocation formula by Oban GP, Dr Erik Jespersen. Dr Jespersen said it would mean only 68 per cent of GP partners in Scotland will share in a £23.2 million taxpayer-funded windfall, while the rest – largely in rural Scotland and some working in Scotland’s most deprived practices – would get nothing.
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The uplift equates to a 10.2 per cent hike per partner – or £10,239 based on an average full-time partner salary of £100,000. Dr Jespersen also warned that “a majority” of GP partners will put the cash towards a personal salary hike, rather than investing it in their practices.
The BMA dispute Dr Jespersen’s calculations, but Dr Jespersen said it was the most accurate estimate possible based on the most recent workforce data for Scotland. His view has been corroborated by several healthcare statisticians.
A vote on whether to accept the new contract will take place on January 18 at a meeting of the Scottish GP Committee, whose 40 members have the final say. It follows a national ballot of GPs, which closed on January 4.
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Dr Kennedy wrote to Health Secretary Shona Robison and the BMA before Christmas asking that a regional breakdown of the poll results be shared with SGPC members before they vote, amid fears that the contract is creating a bitter split in the profession. He said he was “confident” this would be agreed to on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs, said the contract should not antagonise other NHS workers facing far lower pay rises. He added: “Ministers have to be careful other parts of the NHS don’t feel left behind or under-valued as a result.
Labour shadow secretary for health, Anas Sarwar, added: “GPs have been let down throughout the SNP’s decade in power, with a GP crisis created by years of falling funding for primary care.
“We know that up to a third of GP practices are reporting a vacancy, piling even more pressure on existing staff. Any new money must go on not just attracting more GPs, but also providing resources to bring in auxiliary support, such as advanced specialist nurses and physiotherapists, to increase capacity.”
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair BMA Scotland’s GP Committee, said: “If implemented, the changes to the workload formula will address the situation that currently sees many GP practices underfunded for the amount of work that they carry out, particularly in relation to elderly patients and those in deprived areas.
“This underfunding impacts on the level of service that practices are able to provide to their patients and in a number of cases has contributed to practices handing back their contract to the health board.
“The proposed contract will ensure that every practice in Scotland has their finances protected, while providing more financial support to those practices with under-resourced higher workloads.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “From April there will be additional investment of £23 million to support the introduction of the new workload formula, and the practice income guarantee. As the BMA themselves have set out, this means that no practice will see a reduction in funding under the new contract.
“Following the outcome of discussions on pay and expenses for 2018-19, we are likely to see funding for every practice in Scotland increase.”
Source : HeraldScotland