General practitioners across Scotland, especially in rural Scotland, are concerned about the impact that the new GP contract will have on their practices. Under the proposed contract, one rural GP in Argyll and Bute is set to lose 87 per cent of their funding. All of us would agree that that is an unacceptable situation. Many GPs feel that the Scottish Government is setting rural GPs against urban GPs. I therefore make a positive suggestion to the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport: they should pause the contract process until the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee has had the opportunity to properly scrutinise the new contract in order to ensure that it does not further destabilise a situation that is already a crisis for general practice across Scotland.
Last week, the overwhelming majority of GPs voted to accept the new GP contract, which I warmly welcome. It is good for the profession and it will also be good for patients.
Of course we must listen to the issues for rural GPs, which is why a short-life working group has been established to look specifically at those issues. Members do not simply have to listen to the Scottish Government on this; it is the British Medical Association’s position that the concerns that are being expressed by rural GPs are unfounded and that no GP will lose funding as a result of the new contract. That is the reality of the situation, but I accept that we have to convince rural GPs that that is the case, and we will continue to work collaboratively with them to seek to do exactly that.