SNP Government to invest £71.6 million to improve on what is already the best-staffed and the most contented primary care system (GPs) in the UK and perhaps beyond


Today on we read:

An additional £71.6 million will be invested in direct support of general practice, helping transform the way services are delivered in the community, Health Secretary Shona Robison has announced. The funds will directly support general practice in 2017/18, by improving recruitment and retention, reducing workload, developing new ways of delivering services and covering pay and expenses.’

The BMA and the RCGP have been campaigning fiercely via the mainstream media for further investment in general practice. The opposition parties have been dishonestly claiming a looming crisis in general practice. I’ll return to the SNP Government investment below but first I want to clarify that general practice in Scotland is already in superior condition to that in the rest of UK, in several ways.

First, Scotland has significantly more GPs per head of population:

Scotland –1 GP to 1083 people.

England – 1 GP to 1338 people.

Wales – 1 GP to 1375 people.

Northern Ireland – 1 GP to 1445 people

Second, Scottish GPs are the most satisfied with practising medicine:

Scotland – 80%

England – 65%

Wales – 67%

Northern Ireland – 71%

Third, fewer Scottish GPs work excessive hours than those in the rest of the UK (percentages):

England          Scotland         Wales              N Ireland

1-34                 22                    15                    20                    20

35-44               29                    34                    33                    34

44-54               28                    39                    32                    28

50 or over       21                    12                    15                    19

Fourth, Scottish doctors are the least stressed in the UK (percentages)

England          Scotland         Wales              N Ireland

Extremely       19                    7                      18                    15

Very                 43                    25                    37                    27

Somewhat       34                    57                    36                    47

Not too            3                      11                    8                      10

Not at all         1                      0                      1                      0

All of the above come from a rigorous academic study carried out by professional researchers, not interested parties like the BBC, BMA or RCGP, at the Commonwealth Institute (USA):

I had to make a special request for the breakdown of the UK figures.

The Commonwealth Institute also identified the NHS across the UK as superior to most other systems across the globe, especially that of Obama’s USA.

Here are the extras planned by the Scottish Government:

The funding will be broken down as follows:

  • £60 million for direct support of general practice. This includes £20 million towards workforce, £21 million for transformation and clusters and £5.5 million for infrastructure.
  • £11.6 million for contract uplift in 2017/18 to cover pay and expenses.

Further details of how the £60 million fund will be invested, announced today, include:

  • The GP Recruitment and Retention Fund will increase five-fold – from £1 million in 2016/17 to £5 million in 2017/18, helping fund GP bursaries and expand a scheme to encourage retired GPs to return to practice.
  • The amount a practice can claim to help pay for locum cover when a GP is on sick leave will increase to match the level of maternity leave cover.
  • A further £200,000 to reimburse the increase in the costs of completing GP appraisals.’

To me this is an impressive package of assistance to an already well-staffed and resourced area of the NHS Scotland.


11 thoughts on “SNP Government to invest £71.6 million to improve on what is already the best-staffed and the most contented primary care system (GPs) in the UK and perhaps beyond

  1. William Henderson March 10, 2017 / 6:10 pm


    Wonderful news!

    I’ve said it to you before but will repeat myself, your blog is the most positive and enjoyable read on the Scottish scene right now. It’s a daily delight to visit.

    By the way, I’ve just found this on the BBC, would you believe:

    Some change from just a few weeks back.

    Keep up the good work.


    • johnrobertson834 March 10, 2017 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks very much William for your kind words. As for the BBC website piece, they’ve been more positive than RepScot for some time now. Different editor or do they know the online audience can see through them unlike the poor folk only watching TV news?


  2. Contrary March 10, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    I have have to agree with William’s sentiment – it is a pleasure to be able to go to a blog you know is going to be positive.

    On the BBC article mentioned, even more surprising was that it was reported on radio Scotland Newsdrive today in a positive light! They effectively said that it was the Scottish government that sorted out the poor perforformance of trains. I was astonished. But then, they throw up the occasional anomaly like this, probably thinking it equates to balanced reporting. The occasional concession like this does not make the rest of their abysmal biased reporting a balanced approach,,, but when I hear a bit of rational reporting like this, I always get a kind of secret little spark of hope that maybe,,, no, that’s just my heavily tinted rose-tinted glasses I like to keep between me and the world.

    So as to finish on a positive, has anyone spotted any reporting of the award Alex Salmond received from the Europian parliament?:

    I mean, the EU invented a new award, and made the first recipient Mr Salmond for his democratic actions for promoting independence, diversity, etc etc. I have to wonder at people that seem to believe that (a) the SNP are some kind of totalitarian/socialist ,,, I won’t even say the n-word, and (b) that the EU won’t welcome Scotland. Are unionists so self-deluded? What on earth is it they are trying to hold onto that is worth shutting yourself off from rationality?

    Um, well, almost positive. My excuse is toothache & lack of sleep.

    On the interesting figures given above for GPs hours & self-diagnosed stress-levels, it looks like the numbers for Scotland show nearly a normal distribution (? – I haven’t drawn a graph, just imagining it), which is always a healthier way to be – any GP proclaiming zero stress does not sound natural, or trustworthy.


    • johnrobertson834 March 10, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Thanks again Contrary for all your supportive comments. They make a big difference to me. I am surprised by the Newsdrive comment but mixing just the right amount of positive reporting within overall worrying of the audience allows them to pretend balance and is what old man Marx would have called ‘repressive tolerance’ like TV letting John Pilger on after 11pm or a corporation allowing the Sunday Herald and the National? 100% SNPbad and even the thickest listener starts to get suspicious. Normal curve? That is interesting… nerds like me. Zero stress, yes wonder if he was the guy who prescribed the meds that got me into all this pain?


      • Clydebuilt March 11, 2017 / 9:38 am

        Mixing up the propaganda with positive news, they’re becoming more Sleekit…….. The hand of Donalda? That’s how I see it,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Contrary March 11, 2017 / 6:54 pm

        Ah well, if you like supportive comments, I am also impressed with your skill in being able to read articles and pick out the pertinent points quickly (I have great difficulty in doing so), I noticed it when I’d brought your attention to the big power cable being built between here and Norway – your article on it was so much clearer than what I had read before, was concise, brought to the fore the pertinent points & turnaround time very fast. That is a real skill.

        And yeah, medication for depression is a difficult one, I have seen it help people, but it MUST be prescribed along with ongoing support and constant reassessments – sending you off on your own with a pile of drugs can be detrimental. The latest treatment that has shown best results is behavioural activation (BA), and sounds good (break-off from CBT), and it sounds like you are already on a similar road. It is a slow process, but that means you can build in solid behavioural & thinking change, and any slippages will be minor. (Hopefully! ) You also should be aware that it can be good for those giving support: by taking a bit more time and thinking about how to say something in a positive light it can become habitual & change your thinking, changing your attitude, changing your view of the world, and in the end makes life more manageable. In a sweeping generalisation, Scots tend to be dour (I put much of that down to 300 years of union = 300 years of national depression), and it can be small changes in thinking, brought on by the way things are said, that can stop a downward spiral. So a positive take of events in Scotland is good for you, and good for everyone that reads about them! I have also changed several double-negatives (sinful things) in comments, which is always a good thing.

        I do notice a few negative comments creeping in, ‘how dare you make things look fine! I’m miserable, so you should be too! I will pick out every little piece of information and negate it! And not even say how it could be better!’. You can be assured they have missed the point of your articles – if they cannot debunk any of the information in a positive way, then their opinion has little credence. Any piece of news can be turned into a negative, as we have learned thanks to your hard work on the issue, why should we ONLY see it from that angle? Everything in the world can and will have problems associated with it, and it is very unlikely everything can be fixed to perfection to everyone’s taste, so we all have to compromise and look to the things that can be better and show good trends towards the best. There are plenty other places people can go to find the misery of the news’ negative side, trying to inject those into a website titled ‘talking up Scotland’ is nonsensical. I am being a bit grumpy about this, but it is true.

        A general feeling I get: yes-supporters tend to be happier in themselves, more at peace with the world; no-supports tend to be angry, and confused, and unhappy with the world. One of the reasons I decided Scotland wasn’t beyond hope and can build a good country from whatever wastes Westminster has tried to impose on it, is because there are a large proportion of scots that believe it in their hearts – and the 300-year-depression has been broken.

        Again I apologise for waxing lyrical, I could have made my points concisely in about five lines, but it would have taken me about five hours!


  3. Jomry March 10, 2017 / 10:36 pm

    Echo the above comments. I note the views of “news-stand” are increasing quite impressively and will build even faster if you can make the “overview of articles” a clickable link in your header. Think your presentation of these positive achievements in Scotland will become ever more important in the months ahead. Best wishes.


  4. Tim March 11, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Professor Robertson, like you I am delighted that there is to be additional investment in the NHS, However, as one who actually works in an arena that is actually in crisis, I think you are being somewhat flippant. It may indeed be the case that less GPs here are stressed – although your graphic doesn’t seem to support that – and that there may (theoretically) be more per head of population. However that masks the bigger, and perhaps uglier picture. GP practices cannot attract staff to work, the average age of GPs is continuing to rise, and whilst we are just about holding on now, this will not be the case in 5-10yrs time. The SG has, up till now, been grossly complacent simply repeating the line that ‘all will be well’ Thankfully it seems that someone has woken up!
    All parts of Scotland are having problems attracting GPs – and the recent precedent of making Scotland a higher taxed area of the UK – with that gap going to widen in the coming years, will do nothing to address this crisis. Indeed it will make Scotland a far more unlikely destination for the very people we need to attract here


    • johnrobertson834 March 11, 2017 / 10:12 am

      Thanks Tim
      I certainly did not mean to be flippant and I apologise if I have been inadvertently but I do feel the Commonwealth Institute research can be trusted more than partisan comments from the BMA or RCGP. As for the tables, I thought they were clear. In what way do they not support my reading of them?
      Best wishes


  5. johnrobertson834 March 11, 2017 / 10:40 pm

    Contrary, thanks so much again. Wise and compassionate words. And praise beyond that which I deserve.


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