Finance Secretary visits local services ahead of final Budget stage.
An investment of £7.5 million to support GP practices to work more closely across their local area, has been announced by the Scottish Government.
The funding will support the development of GP clusters - helping practices to collaborate on quality improvement, share resources and develop community health services over a wider local area.
National Services Scotland and Healthcare Improvement Scotland will also be funded to help local GP practices and integration partnerships to formally establish and develop these new working arrangements across the country.
It comes as the Scottish Parliament prepares to vote on the final stage of the Scottish Government’s Budget proposals which, if approved, will deliver record investment in the NHS.
The Budget, which commits a further £327 million in resource funding for NHS Boards, will deliver additional investment in primary and community healthcare services - with the primary care budget to increase by £500 million by the end of this Parliament.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said extra money for GP and primary care services would allow the NHS to build up more services in the community and help ensure that people can be treated in non-hospital settings when appropriate.
He said: “This Budget will deliver growth and investment in our public services. It will provide a strong settlement for local government, increased investment in education and increases to the frontline NHS budget for investment in primary care, community care, social care and mental health.
“Record levels of investment in our NHS will ensure we continue to keep pace with rising demand, as well as providing the resources to continue to transform the way health and social care services are delivered.
“The additional funding announced today to support GPs is exactly the sort of new ways of working which we want to encourage in our NHS. Working together, across practice boundaries, will allow local GPs to better manage their collective resources and provide services that are tailored to their local population.
“This innovation within our health service, coupled with record levels of funding and a commitment to invest in primary and community care, will ensure our NHS continues to be one of the best-performing across the UK.”
Dr Gregor Smith, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said: “We’re very fortunate in this country to have the quality of general practice and primary care services that we do have. The commitment of my colleagues to people across Scotland is something I understand and appreciate. It is important that this framework supports their professionalism and ambition to continually improve and that is why it is so pleasing it was developed collaboratively, with Scottish Government, BMA Scotland, the Royal College of General Practitioners and Scotland’s health boards working together to further improve care.”
Dr Brian Robson, Healthcare Improvement Scotland's Medical Director said "Healthcare Improvement Scotland recognises that a flourishing primary care is a key component of health and social care integration and are delighted to be supporting the development of out of hours care and the quality agenda in GP clusters.
“This significant investment announced by the Scottish Government today will help to support improvements in care for people using primary care services at a time of rising demand in-hours and out-of-hours.”
The investment will assist the development of GP clusters and support the approach to quality improvement set out in “Improving Together - A National Framework for Quality and GP Clusters in Scotland” published in January 2016. This framework will help GP practices to work together and with their local health and social care systems to further improve and develop services for people they care for and support.
It will ensure every GP practice in Scotland has protected time to participate in GP clusters.
29 out of 31 Integration Joint Boards have declared their cluster arrangements to the Scottish Government. There are 142 declared clusters.
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