The Scottish government has announced an investigation into complaints from some practices about a new GP contract introduced in the country yesterday.
The contract is being backed with extra funding and its negotiators say it should help relieve work pressures on doctors.
The British Medical Association – which has faced criticism for its role – also says the contract received strong backing from practices.
It has been vigorously opposed by some doctors representing rural and inner-city practices – and there have been threats of resignation from the BMA.
The Scottish government announced yesterday it had set up a “short life” working group to investigate these problems. It is being chaired by Professor Lewis Ritchie.
It is putting some £100 million extra into funding the new contract – and promises it will help relieve the workload of GPs, partly through enabling practices to employ additional staff such as pharmacists and nurses.
BMA Scottish GP chair Dr Alan McDevitt said: “The additional funding attached to this contract is a significant investment and demonstrates the value placed on the role of general practice in the NHS in Scotland. The new contract offers income stability and reduced business risk to individuals.
“It protects the funding of every practice in Scotland while addressing the relative underfunding of practice workloads associated with elderly and deprived populations.
“I truly believe that this contract offers something to GP practices in every part of Scotland. It will help to reduce the pressures of GP workload and improve GP recruitment and retention.”
He added: “The agreement to implement the new GP contract was a landmark decision for general practice in Scotland that will help to restore hope to the profession and encourage more doctors to choose careers as GPs.”
Scottish health minister Shona Robison said: “Our commitment to invest £7.5 million to support GP recruitment and retention, including £850,000 in increased support to expand the remote and rural incentive scheme and relocation funds, will have a positive impact for rural GPs.
“The new remote and rural short life working group will also ensure the contract is delivered in a way that works well for rural communities and look at what more can be done to support rural general practice.
“This investment is part of a wider commitment to increase general practice funding by £250 million by 2021 as part of an extra investment of £500 million per year for primary care funding. This will raise the primary care budget from 7.7% to 11% of the total NHS frontline budget.”