Unhealthy system

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THE Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland would like to comment on your report (16 November) on the launch of our campaign calling for an increase in resources for general practice: Put Patients First: Back General Practice.

A Scottish Government spokesman said in response to our figures that spend on general practice had ‘increased more than 17 per cent since 2004, with a further increase by £8 million to general practice this year’.

These statistics are, of course, correct. However, they do not disprove our data as they do not reflect inflation during that nine-year period. Neither do they address the main point of the RCGP Scotland campaign, which is that the proportion of the NHS budget spent on general practice has declined from 9.47 per cent to 7.78 per cent since 2004.

The rising Scottish population and the need to address the problems of multiple, long-term conditions and health inequality mean that investment is vital to meet the increasing demands on primary care. We are calling for an increase to 11 per cent of NHS budget by 2017 to meet this need and to ensure Scotland’s patients continue to have access to high quality care.

(Dr) John Gillies

Chairman, RCGP Scotland


Calls for “genuine” seven-day working in hospitals (your ­report, 18 November) are deserving of public support.

As a retired general practitioner, who provided out-of-hours care throughout my working life, I do not think it is acceptable that expensive primary care health centres are closed all day on Saturdays and Sundays, which means that there are no primary care centres open on nearly a third of the week. There is an increasing demand for normal health services to be available seven days a week and GPs must take their share in providing normal services at weekends and not place the whole burden on out-of-hours services and the casualty departments at the hospitals.

To begin with, primary care centres should be open on Saturday mornings, as they used to be, to deal with routine and emergency matters. Hopefully, this might take some of the burden from the overstretched casualty departments at ­weekends.

Hugh M Mackenzie 

Pitlochry, Perthshire