Health secretary Shona Robison announced plans to dismantle the unpopular Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF), where surgeries are required to tick off treatments they have done for patients in exchange for payment.
In a speech to the Royal College of GPs conference in Glasgow yesterday, Ms Robison also offered a “cast iron” guarantee not to cut junior doctors’ pay in Scotland as part of bold plans to tackle Scotland’s spiralling GP crisis.
Doctors leaders were swift to welcome the news after hitting out at the Scottish Government earlier this week for failing provide evidence of a coherent plan for the future of general practice.
Ms Robison said: “QOF has delivered many innovations but it’s time is past. Scotland’s GPs need a new and different future, starting from 2016.”
The system, which was introduced in 2004, has been criticised by doctors leaders for increasing paperwork and taking time away from patients.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP committee, hailed the move as a “significant step” towards helping to stabilise the profession.
He said: “This bold move by the Cabinet Secretary is part of the re-invigoration of General Practice in Scotland.
“It will have a positive effect on practices, by reducing workload and bureaucracy, allowing GPs to focus on the complex care needs of their patients.”
However Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie accused the government of being “caught napping” over plans for primary care. Speaking during First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Rennie MSP said: “Waiting two years is hardly immediate action. The First Minister said she was doing everything she could. But 99 per cent of GPs said that was not enough.
“The truth is the Scottish Government has been caught napping. Ministers saying everything is fine. Everyone else saying it is not.”
Ms Robison also told the audience of more than 2,000 family doctors that she was “appalled” by plans by UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt to reduce pay for junior doctors and vowed to resist such a move in Scotland.
The move has been causing growing alarm in England due to fears it will only add to considerable workforce issues in the profession.
Ms Robison said: “Let’s be clear, this isn’t just about pay. It’s about longer working hours and the impact on patient safety.”