Primary Care

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd March 2021.

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Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

I, too, take this opportunity to thank quite a few people. I thank the committee clerks, who have already been mentioned and who worked hard during the inquiry. Committee members, regardless of party, worked well together. We may have disagreed on some matters, but we came to a conclusion, so I thank members for putting issues aside to work together as grown-ups for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

I also thank members of the public and stakeholders who provided invaluable evidence and opinion during our panels. Their input was vital to the report.

The Health and Sport Committee’s inquiry’s remit included that it was to look at the sustainability of current primary care provision and at the shape it should take for the next generation; how it should provide care for a growing and ageing population and for people with complex medical conditions; and at governance changes. Those are just a few of the areas within the remit of the inquiry.

The inquiry began in 2019, which seems almost a lifetime ago, given what we have all endured recently. In the first phase, we heard from panels, primarily members of the public, in order to gather information. That was a necessary and vital step in understanding people’s experience of primary care, and it allowed committee members to focus on users’ needs. We heard directly from them about current delivery of services, whether it was working for them and what they thought the future of primary care services should look like. We all found it very interesting to listen to the public. It was not rocket science; it was about people and how the health service should work for them. The people who attended those public sessions certainly told us how the health service should work for them. I found that very interesting.

The second part of the inquiry focused on what we have at present, including current Scottish Government policies, integration joint boards and the role of GPs and other healthcare providers, including multidisciplinary teams and third sector organisations. That was quite an undertaking, particularly because those services have been under increased pressure due to the pandemic. It gave us an insight into the demands on our primary care providers and the impact on users.

I appreciate the cabinet secretary’s response to the report’s conclusions and I acknowledge the substantial steps that the Scottish Government has taken to date to reform primary care. The doubled primary care improvement fund, revised GP contract and support for multidisciplinary teams will go some way. I also acknowledge the support that the Scottish Government has provided for primary care services as a direct result of the pandemic.

The Government’s vision of having a world-class public health service that delivers the right care in the right place at the right time in order to improve population health and address inequality is very good, and I support it. The committee’s report should provide further insight into how that can be realised. I have confidence in the Government and in the committee that that will be delivered.