GPs in Scotland have welcomed additional investment of £20m to reduce the financial risk of owning premises – and make becoming a GP partner more attractive.
BMA Scottish GPs committee chair Andrew Buist said that supporting GPs was at the heart of the new Scotland-only contract, which he said was ‘restoring hope’ to the profession.
The premises sustainability loan scheme, which is part of the new contract, aims to ease the financial burden of owning a practice and help with recruitment and retention. Under the scheme, eligible practices can apply for interest-free loans worth up to a fifth of the value of the premises.
In the first round, 172 practices have been approved for loans, around half of those who are eligible to do so. Loans are only repaid when the premises are no longer used for primary care medical services under an NHS contract, or when they are sold.
Announcing the latest investment, which takes the value of the scheme to £50m over the next two years, health secretary Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government wanted to ensure GPs had the support they needed.
‘The BMA and individual GPs have raised concerns with us about the financial risk of owning premises,’ she said. ‘So we have responded directly, and this scheme helps to "de-risk" general practice and reduce some of the upfront costs GPs can face when joining a practice.
‘In doing so, I hope this will make becoming a GP partner more attractive, making it easier to recruit new GPs to a practice.'
Dr Buist (pictured below) said the new contract, which came into force last year, aimed to make becoming a GP a more attractive career choice.
‘Key to that is reducing risk and financial burdens around choosing to be a GP,’ he added. ‘This funding is a great example of this principle in action – and the practical benefits that the contract has secured for GPs.
‘I am sure it will make a real difference for GPs across Scotland, as the popularity of the scheme has shown. While there is still much work to do to transform what it means to be a GP, I believe that through the new contract we are finally restoring hope to the profession.’
Speaking at the Allander Surgery in Glasgow, which will benefit from the scheme, Ms Freeman added that it would contribute to the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 during the next decade.
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