DOCTORS’ leaders have welcomed a Scottish Government cash boost for GPs as a medical practice in Livingston became the latest to face an uncertain future amid concerns over workloads.
Health Secretary Shona Robison announced an extra £71.6 million to be spent directly on general practice, including recruitment and retention.
It is the first stage of the Scottish Government’s pledge to invest an extra £250m in direct support of general practice each year by 2021.
Ms Robison said: “Without strong general practice the system can’t work and that’s why we need to show that we value it.”
Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, said: “We are delighted to have negotiated with the Scottish Government that a substantial proportion of the additional investment into primary care will be spent in direct support of general practice.”
Meanwhile, all five GPs at the Deans and Eliburn medical practice, based at Carmondean health centre in Livingston, have resigned their contracts with NHS Lothian.
The health board will take the practice – which has 11,500 patients on its books – under direct management from next month.
It comes after a similar move at Edinburgh’s Southside Surgery in January after efforts to recruit new GPs failed. The practice was in danger of having to close because its premises were part-owned by retiring GPs, but it has now been saved and is due to move to a new home at Cameron Toll in the summer.
And earlier this month both partners at Inverleith medical practice announced they would be quitting in June.
Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said the situation at the Deans and Eliburn practice was “deeply concerning”. He said: “It is another indication of the massive pressure on GP services across Lothian.”
And Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “GP practices in Livingston are really on the edge. They are struggling hugely just for lack of staff and pressures. It is very worrying.”
Jim Forrest, chief officer at West Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “NHS Lothian and the social care partnership team are working closely with Deans and Eliburn Medical Practice to ensure that all patients with the practice continue to receive safe and effective care.
“The practice has clearly stated that existing staff will continue to work in the practice and that their patients should continue to contact them as usual to access the services they need.”