Primary Care

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

It is outside my office.

In 2011, the late Campbell Christie chaired a commission that looked at the future delivery of public services in Scotland. In that report, the key action that was required was to look at and invest more in prevention, not just with regard to health but across public services and in local government. Sadly, that has not happened. We are now coming to the end of this parliamentary session, in 2021, and a report is saying that a focus on prevention needs to be prioritised. I suggest that it should have been prioritised, and doing that is key if we are going to move forward.

In their current form, health and social care partnerships and the IJBs lack democratic accountability. They need to be reviewed, and we need to look at how they can be structured to function better than they do currently.

There has always been a tug between funding acute services and funding community care. In the Parliament last year, Alex Neil made a speech in which he talked about the need to introduce bridging funding, so that we can bridge the gap between less money going into acute services and more money going into primary care. Again, there has been a major failure, because we have failed to introduce that over the past number of years.

I will pick up on what the BMA and the Royal College of GPs said, which is that it is clear that, in Scotland, there are not enough GPs. They make the point that it should not be a choice between investing in and recruiting GPs or focusing delivery on other well-staffed workforce areas; it has to be both. The Government has made a commitment to an additional 800 GPs. Perhaps in summing up, the cabinet secretary can advise on how that is progressing. Factors such as rising patient lists, an ageing population and ever more long-term conditions continue to pour pressure on GP services and health centre services and increase demands on GPs’ time. Equally, GPs face restricted funding and premises that are not keeping pace with new demands for care, and they are now working through the Covid pandemic. That leaves our GPs exhausted and facing burn-out.

Before the previous election, there was a promise from many politicians that a new health centre would be built in Lochgelly, where I am sitting today, because the one that is here is not fit for purpose. It is the same situation in Kelty, the village that I come from, which also needs a new health centre. If we do not put the resources and facilities in at a community level, we cannot expect to get the results.

Although I am grateful for the extra time that you have given me, Presiding Officer, my time has been brief and there needs to be a much bigger debate. The committee’s report highlights some of the issues, and I hope that the next Parliament gets to grips with the issue, because it is key for the future of all our health services that we get community care right.