GP Fundholding

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury) 2:30 pm, 28th June 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many general practitioner practices in Grampian are fundholders; what proportion of the total this represents; and what is the average proportion of Scottish practices which are fundholders. [29376]

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

There are currently 38 practices in Grampian in the GP fundholding scheme out of a total of 89. Approximately 43 per cent. of the practices in Grampian are GP fundholders, covering 62 per cent. of the board's population. There are currently 158 fundholding practices in Scotland out of a total of 1,078. Approximately 15 per cent. of the practices in Scotland are GP fundholders covering 23 per cent. of the population.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he take it from me that a number of the practices in my constituency have become fundholders in the past two years much against their will, because they felt that they were under pressure to do to so in order to benefit their patients? What assurances can he give to medical practitioners in Huntly, who have recently been told that the minor surgical operations that they carry out at the Jubilee hospital in Huntly will not be funded in future by the health board, and that if they do not wish to perform those operations they should refer such cases to consultants, which will increase waiting lists and costs in the health service? Is that a sensible way to develop local GP surgical practices?

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

The health board is simply applying the rules which relate separately to the provision of minor surgery within GP practices by any GP and to certain specific arrangements which apply to GP fundholders on the use of their funds to provide certain surgical procedures. The regulations allow for a limited list of procedures where, subject to strict arrangements, the fundholders can use their fund to facilitate the provision of secondary services within the practice where a particular GP has expertise.

I hope that the GPs involved will continue to work with the health boards and that there will be no question of their withdrawing co-operation, which would be unfortunate. I hope that they will provide a full range of services to their patients in the area. The arrangements are voluntary and it is up to the Gps involved to decide on the extent of their participation in minor surgical work. GP fundholding offers enormous advantages, which are perceived throughout Scotland.