Scotland

GPs call for more Scottish government funding

Doctors' funding has been lost claims RCGP Scotland Image copyright Thinkstock

GPs have lost out on £1.6bn of investment over the last 10 years, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland.

It claims there have been "cumulative cuts" to general practice's share of NHS Scotland spending over a decade.

The RCGP Scotland is lobbying for general practice to receive 11% of the Scottish NHS budget.

But ministers insisted GP funding had increased each year under the SNP administration.

The RCGP said Scots had lost about 4.5 million consultations per year over 10 years and called for the Scottish government to stop the decline in funding.

Opposition parties also hit out at the "staggering level of underinvestment" in community health.

Funding figures

According to the RCGP figures, in 2005/06 GP funding in Scotland stood at about £696m - 9.8% of NHS expenditure that year.

By 2014/15, funding had risen to £772m, but by this time it equated to 7.4% of NHS expenditure.

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said: "£1.6bn has been cut from the budget of general practice that should have been invested in GPs, staff and infrastructure. Instead, we have a recruitment crisis and patients waiting three weeks for an appointment with their family doctor.

"We have now seen a full decade of cuts to the percentage share general practice receives from NHS Scotland spending."

Image copyright Thinkstock

He added: "General practice simply cannot continue along these lines. Without an increase in funding, the Scottish government's plans for more community-based care will not be met and patient care and safety will suffer."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "The decline in GPs under the SNP is clear to see in every community. There are GP vacancies everywhere and it is hard to get an appointment. And the SNP have done little to tackle the further 700 shortfall in GPs predicted by 2020."

Labour's Dr Richard Simpson, a former GP, said: "Family doctors are working in incredibly difficult conditions under the SNP, with the amount of money invested in family doctors slashed year on year."

But Health Secretary Shona Robison gave a different figure for the level of GP funding seen in 2014/15.

She said: "These claims do not reflect the reality - which is that funding for GPs has actually increased each year under this government, rising from £704.61m in 2007-08 to £852.57m in 2014-15 - at the same time as we have increased the overall NHS budget in Scotland to £13bn a year.

"Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of the population of the four UK countries and under this government the number of GPs working in Scotland has increased by 7%."

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