Extra money has been pumped into a Scottish support scheme for practices because of its popularity, it has been announced . Around 50% of eligible practices in Scotland – 172 in total – have applied to join the scheme, which offers interest-free loans.
The money available for the scheme has been increased from £30 million to £50 million, the Scottish government said. GPs who own their premises can apply for long-term loans worth up to 20% of the value of the practice, under the scheme.
Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Both the British Medical Association and individual GPs have raised concerns with us about the financial risk of owning premises. So we have responded directly, and this scheme helps to de-risk general practice and reduce some of the up-front costs GPs can face when joining a practice.
“In doing so, I hope this will make becoming a GP partner more attractive, making it easier to recruit new GPs to a practice. This in turn will contribute to our commitment to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.”
Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA Scottish GP committee, welcomed the news.
He said: “At the heart of the new GP contract introduced last year was a clear aim to make becoming a GP a more attractive career choice and encourage more people into working in this part of the profession.
“Key to that is reducing risk and financial burdens around choosing to be a GP. This funding is a great example of this principle in action – and the practical benefits that the contract has secured for GPs.
“I am sure it will make a real difference for GPs across Scotland, as the popularity of the scheme has shown. While there is still much work to do to transform what it means to be a GP, I believe that through the new contract we are finally restoring hope to the profession.”