– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2019.
4. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with NHS Tayside regarding the delivery of primary care services across the area. (S5O-03544)
Senior officials and the chief executive of NHS Scotland are in regular contact with NHS Tayside on a range of primary care issues. I will meet the chief executive of NHS Tayside and the chief officer of the health and social care partnership on 25 September to discuss the future delivery of primary care services in the area.
The cabinet secretary recently met my colleague Liz Smith to talk about the sudden closure of the Bridge of Earn general practice surgery, which has caused much anxiety to local people. She will know that one of the concerns in the local community is about the lack of a clear plan for the future delivery of primary care in the area. Can she give us an undertaking today that raising the matter will be a priority when she meets NHS Tayside, and can she tell us when she will be able to report back to Parliament on the outcome of that meeting?
I met the member’s colleague Ms Smith and had a productive discussion in which I accepted her concerns about communication and engagement with the local community, the lack of clarity over a long-standing commitment to invest £1 million of capital in the Bridge of Earn practice and the apparent lack of a plan from the NHS board or social care partnerships for how services will be developed and delivered in the future. Those issues are part of the discussions that my officials are having with officials at NHS Tayside, which I will continue when I meet the chief executive next week. Following that, as soon as I am clear about the future plan—it is important that there is one—I will make sure that not only Murdo Fraser but Liz Smith and other interested colleagues are advised of that.
The cabinet secretary will be aware that many of the underlying issues surrounding general practitioner retention in Tayside relate to the poor quality of many of the privately owned surgeries and buildings. In the case of Bridge of Earn, the owner has, in effect, acted as a rogue landlord for a number of years, and that has led to the GP crisis in the town.
What progress is being made to bring the primary care estate back into public ownership so that it can meet the needs of 21st-century primary integrated healthcare?
The Government is part of the discussion, and the first phase of the GP contract has made additional investment available to primary care GP practices in order to improve existing practices and remove some of the risk around the ownership or lease of existing practices. We are seeing the development of a mixed model, with salaried GPs—Tayside has made significant moves in that regard—and a continued use of private practice.
I am interested in primary care as the foundation of effective health and social care delivery in our communities, with primary care being the multidisciplinary team providing the care that people need when they need it, with the right specialist expertise. That is the work of our primary care improvement plans, in relation to which we have invested £1.5 million in improvements in Perth and Kinross.
Audit Scotland’s recent report on the planning of the primary care clinical workforce recommended improvements to data collection, the monitoring of the GP contract and the simplification of workforce planning. Does the cabinet secretary accept Audit Scotland’s recommendation, and does she share my view that good workforce planning needs accurate and solid data?
Yes, I accept that. I think that we are on record as accepting Audit Scotland’s recommendations, fundamental to which is the issue of quality workforce planning. The member knows that that is never an exact science, but a good place to start is with quality data, and we are working to ensure that we have that. It is part of the GP contract—if you like, it is the other side of the GP contract—that the data that we receive from our GP practices should be consistent across the country, so that we have greater clarity about what is currently in place and what more needs to be done.