BMA chairman: GPs’ can’t be ‘middleman’ for all patient care

Doctors' leaders call for refocusing of GP role to combat effects of looming recruitment crisis. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Doctors' leaders call for refocusing of GP role to combat effects of looming recruitment crisis. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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The chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee has said that the current model for patient care is no longer viable and their role needs to be refocused as part of a new contract for family doctors.

Dr Alan McDevitt told a conference in Edinburgh yesterday that general practice could no longer be “the middle man” for all patient care, as Scotland’s chronic GP shortage will not be resolved within the next decade.

Doctors will need to think of how they can share the burden with other healthcare workers including pharmacists, nurses and voluntary organisations, said Dr McDevitt.

It comes after the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland accused ministers of viewing family doctors as “dispensable”, as new analysis revealed GPs only received a 1.9 per cent funding increase compared with 3.8 per cent for health boards.

A new GP contract is due in 2017 and Dr McDevitt is currently working with the Scottish Government on what this will entail. He had claimed the contract was about doctors’ pay, but later said it was about redefining the role of the family doctor, as there is currently no explicit detail on the remit of the job in Scotland.

Dr McDevitt said: “In the contract we will be trying to refocus the time of GPs and their energies. I don’t want to be the middle man. People shouldn’t have to come through me if they want to see a dentist.”

He said current workloads are “unbearable and unacceptable”, which is making general practice unattractive.

Richard Foggo, deputy director and head of primary care at the Scottish Government, said ministers had made ambitious moves to tackle the situation by removing the unpopular Quality Outcomes Framework along with substantial work to change models of care.

He said: “We must accept the challenges head on but we must also sell hope. Otherwise … bringing people into general practice … will be significantly more difficult.”