A critical element of the new GP contract is the requirement for a shift in the way that primary care services are delivered through enhanced and expanded multidisciplinary care teams, which are made up of a variety of professionals who each contribute their unique skills to the delivery of person-centred care and improving outcomes for individuals and local communities. There is no defined structure for a multidisciplinary team, but a significant degree of flexibility is encouraged to ensure that the services that are provided meet local needs. That is central to the work of health and social care partnerships.
Is the cabinet secretary aware that the Lanarkshire GPs’ pilot deployment of occupational therapists in primary care has reduced GP visits by up to 72 per cent and has resulted in patients who have mental health issues being seen by the occupational therapist immediately, with more severe cases being referred to the appropriate service? In view of that result, does the Scottish Government have plans to promote the recruitment of more occupational therapists?
I am aware of the success of the initiative in Lanarkshire. The idea of cluster-based GP practices working together to encourage the spread of good practice across the work that they undertake forms part of the GP contracts. The work will be tailored to identify the measures that are best suited to meeting the needs of the local population. In some instances, that will involve increasing physiotherapy. In all GP practices, it will involve pharmacology, and we have already recruited to ensure that 50 per cent of our GP practices have access to that service. The work that is carried out will inform what we need to do for the purpose of workforce planning. We have taken steps in relation to physiotherapy training, pharmacist training and occupational therapists. We will continue to review what emerges from the identification of local need and demand, in order to ensure that our workforce planning can match that as well as possible.