10 May 2018
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has asked the Health Secretary Shona Robison what the Government is doing to consult people in remote and rural areas on the impact of the new GP Contract.
Mrs Grant raised the question yesterday in the Scottish Parliament following concerns from patients across the region, but particularly from Easdale Medical Practice, on the Isle of Seil, by Oban.
The MSP has received numerous letters from residents saying the recently agreed contract shows “little regard for a rural practice”.
Patients are worried that services currently available from their local GP will be centralised, including blood tests and vaccinations, and are calling for the Government to ensure the Contract is rural proofed.
They stress the excellent care local GPs give them and do not want any change to the current system.
Ms Robison told Mrs Grant the Health and Social Care Alliance would soon to publishing a report on the issue and a rural short-life working group established to work with rural stakeholders to assist in the implementation of the new GP contract.
But Mrs Grant said: “A contract that is based on the number of appointments does not take account of travelling time for rural GPs, who make more home visits due to the lack of public transport in rural areas, meaning that frail elderly people cannot come to the surgery.
“The contract shows no recognition whatsoever of the difference in rural practice. Similarly, the Scottish index of multiple deprivation, which is used, does not show rural deprivation, meaning that rural GPs miss out again. The Scottish Government has not heard rural GPs, far less their patients.
“How will the Scottish Government rectify the situation and ensure that everyone has access to a GP?”
Afterwards Mrs Grant added: “The Rural GP Association in a recent poll of its members, said nearly 70% of respondents did not feel confident that the contract changes will be beneficial to Scottish rural practices and less confident about their practice’s sustainability.
“Labour will continue to investigate how these changes will affect our rural and remote communities and campaign to ensure that patients do not lose valuable services close to home.”
Labour’s shadow health minister, Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, who is a member of the Health and Sport Committee, said the issue was due to be heard at the committee and he would take up concerns from different parts of the region.