General Practice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update (6 May 2020) we have published a model salaried GP contract letter and terms and conditions

General practice and primary care are at the heart of the healthcare system.  

Our priority is improving access for patients. 

We are investing in multi-disciplinary teams to increase capacity in primary care. This will allow patients to be seen at the right time by the right person, and also help reduce General Practitioner (GP) workload.

More information is in the following sections: 

The Scottish General Medical Services (GMS) Contract

The Scottish General Medical Services (GMS) Contract (1 April 2018) is a joint agreement between the Scottish Government and the British Medical Association (BMA).

The Contract sets out a new direction for general practice in Scotland which aims to:

  • improve access for patients, address health inequalities and improve population health including mental health
  • provide financial stability for GPs, and reduce GP workload through the expansion of the primary care multidisciplinary team
  • redefines the role of the GP as an expert medical generalist focusing on complex care, reduce the risks associated with becoming a GP partner and encourage new entrants to the profession as well as help retain existing GPs

The memorandum of understanding between the Scottish Government, the British Medical Association, Integration Authorities and NHS Board for the new GMS contract was agreed in April 2018. The memorandum sets out the principles by which primary care redesign will be delivered. Crucial to this agreement is that services will only be transferred where it is sustainable for the local healthcare system and, most importantly, where it is safe, appropriate, and improves patient care.

The development of primary care service redesign in the context of delivery of the new GMS contract should meet the following key principles:

  • safe
  • person-centred
  • equitable
  • outcome focused
  • effective
  • sustainable
  • affordable

As a result of the new Contract, all Integration Authorities now have locally-agreed Primary Care Improvement Plans. Plans for 2019 to 2020 include local workforce planning, infrastructure development and patient engagement – work which will improve the primary care people receive in their communities. 


We created the following groups to help with the implementation of the new contract: 

The new contract will expand the team of healthcare professionals working in general practice such as practice nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists.  

GP earnings

We published the GP partner minimum earnings expectation in April 2019 as part of a commitment in the GP contract to provide greater income security for GPs. The minimum earnings expectation ensures that no GP partner in Scotland earns less than £84,630 (including pension contributions) NHS income for a whole-time equivalent post.  

GP premises

We opened the GP Premises Sustainability Fund in November 2018. The aim of the Fund is to reduce barriers to recruitment of GPs. We increased the original value of the fund from £30 million to £50 million before April 2021 in February 2019. 

We published a national code of practice for GP premises in November 2017. 

GP recruitment

We aim to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next 10 years (2018 to 2028).

GP clusters   

A GP cluster is a professional grouping of GP practices represented at periodic meetings by Practice Quality Leads (PQLs) either face-to-face or by video conferencing depending on their circumstances. These clusters provide a way for GPs to engage in peer-led quality improvement activity and contribute to the oversight and development of care within their healthcare system. 

To help support GP clusters, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer produced Improving Together: A National Framework for Quality and GP Clusters in Scotland (January 2017) in association with a number of key stakeholders. This Framework set out the principles and values that NHS Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships should be considering when delivering GP services in their areas, and help GP clusters consider their role in supporting their local boards or partnerships. 

GP contract regulations for providing primary medical services came into force on 1 April 2019.




GP Contract and Implementation Unit
Primary Care Division
Community Health and Social Care Directorate
Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
Regent Road

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