Record number of Scottish GP practices return contracts

A record number of Scottish GP practices returned contracts to health boards last year.

More than 160,000 patients were registered in 2C practices last year, up from 83,290 a decade ago. Picture: Getty Images

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said 2016 saw 52 practices given “2C” status, prompting concerns over patient care and lost value for money.

A 2C practice is one which has returned its contract to the health board, feeling unable to meet its obligations, RCGP said. The practice is then run by a local NHS Board.

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More than 160,000 patients across the country were registered in 2C practices last year, up from 83,290 a decade ago.

RCGP Scotland said it removed GPs from leadership roles and reduced continuity of care for patients.

Dr Miles Mack, chair of RCGP Scotland and a GP in Dingwall, said: “Right across Scotland, GP practices are being forced to close their doors or hand their contracts back to health boards.

“RCGP is particularly concerned over the impact that changing to 2C has on patient care and on lost value for money in healthcare services.

“In particular, it means that GPs are no longer in a leadership role and there is less continuity of care for patients.”

He added: “Patients’ GP services have been the target of disinvestment for over a decade, falling from 9.8 per cent of NHS Scotland’s spending in 2005/06 to just 7.2 per cent in 2015/16, the last year we have figures for.

“Sufficient action must be taken to fill the projected shortfall of 856 GPs across Scotland by 2021.

“To fund that appropriately we need 11 per cent of NHS Scotland’s budget to go to general practice services.

“The Scottish Government’s own Govan SHIP project has shown how much patients can benefit through such measures. Funding for wider primary care, already at 23 per cent of NHS Scotland’s budget, also could be increased.”

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “This a depressing indication of just how serious Scotland’s GP crisis has become.

“These are not decisions a GP practice would take lightly, and tens of thousands of patients will have been hit as a result.

“The SNP has had more than a decade to ensure Scotland has a well-resourced, well-equipped GP set-up.

“Instead, dozens of practices are returning their contracts because they can’t meet their obligations.”

Labour’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said: “These are deeply concerning figures that once again reveal the scale of the SNP’s mismanagement of our NHS.

“Local practices are a vital part of our health service and it is deeply troubling to see them close.”