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Scottish Liberal Democrats Debate: Improving Access to Primary Care

Wednesday 21 February 2024 2:55 PM


Alex Cole-Hamilton S6M-12214 That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government’s longstanding commitment to recruit an extra 800 GPs by 2027 and the views of bodies, including the Royal College of General Practitioners and Audit Scotland, that it is not on track to meet this target; regrets that there is still insufficient access to mental health practitioners working alongside GPs and the £30 million in-year cut to the mental health budget, which Scottish Government documents show will affect primary care; understands that rural and remote communities are among those being severely impacted by high levels of workforce vacancies, presenting barriers to diagnosis, referrals and treatments, and potentially exerting greater pressure on other parts of the NHS, such as accident and emergency, and calls, therefore, on the Scottish Government to rewrite the failed NHS Recovery Plan to get recruitment and retention back on track and to build stronger local health services by expanding the range of services and specialists available, including in mental health and physiotherapy, to meet demand. Neil Gray S6M-12214.2 As an amendment to motion S6M-12214 in the name of Alex Cole-Hamilton (Improving Access to Primary Care), leave out from "the Scottish Government’s" to end and insert "that, every day, public services continue to face the aftermath of the biggest shock faced since the establishment of the NHS – dealing with the combined impact of a pandemic, Brexit, which Scotland overwhelmingly rejected, and a cost of living crisis, amplified by catastrophic UK Government mismanagement; recognises that, in the face of over a decade of UK Government austerity, the Scottish Government’s draft Budget will invest over £2.1 billion in primary care to improve preventative care in the community; welcomes that the Scottish Government’s commitment to NHS staff has meant that Scotland is the only part of the UK not to lose any days to strikes; further welcomes an increase of 271 additional GPs in headcount terms since 2017, and a record expansion of GP speciality training, which will see over 1,200 GP trainees in Scotland in the next year; recognises the unique challenges that rural and island communities face and therefore welcomes the Scottish Government’s intention to publish a Remote and Rural Workforce Recruitment Strategy by the end of 2024; welcomes the expanded primary care multi-disciplinary team workforce, with over 4,700 staff working in these services, including physiotherapy, pharmacy and phlebotomy; notes the doubling of mental health spending in cash terms from £651 million in 2006-07 to £1.3 billion in 2021-22, and that, as a result of that investment, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) staffing has more than doubled; highlights the investment of over £100 million in community-based mental health and wellbeing support for children, young people and adults since 2020; acknowledges that the Scottish Government has exceeded its commitment to fund over 800 additional mental health workers in numerous settings, including over 350 in GP practices; welcomes the ongoing £1 billion NHS Recovery Plan to increase capacity and deliver reform, and pays tribute to, and thanks, the entire health and care workforce for its unstinting efforts to provide services through a very challenging period." Sandesh Gulhane S6M-12214.3 As an amendment to motion S6M-12214 in the name of Alex Cole-Hamilton (Improving Access to Primary Care), after "emergency" insert "; notes with deep concern that the number of GPs per thousand people has decreased significantly in the last decade; recalls that investment in new treatment centres was central to the Scottish Government's NHS Recovery Plan and its promise to improve primary care access; condemns the recent decision to cancel investment in new projects for undermining these promises; strongly urges the Scottish Government to adopt the proposals put forward by the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party in its paper, Modern, Efficient, Local: A new contract between Scotland's NHS and the public, including, critically, the pledges to recruit an additional 1,000 general practitioners and to digitise primary care appointment bookings". Paul Sweeney S6M-12214.1 As an amendment to motion S6M-12214 in the name of Alex-Cole Hamilton (Improving Access to Primary Care), insert at end "; is concerned that health professionals are not meaningfully involved when the Scottish Government is taking decisions on service delivery, patient safety and workforce planning, and calls for the establishment of a statutory national clinical council, which would empower clinical experts and improve services for patients."

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