The SNP Government is investing an additional £20 million in extra support to help general practitioners (GPs) with the cost of running their practices, making a total investment of £50 million over the next two years.
The GP Premises sustainability loan scheme, implemented by the SNP Government last year in direct response to concerns raised by the British Medical Association (BMA), aims to ease the financial burden associated with owning a practice. It is also aimed at improving recruitment and retention. It means GPs who own their own premises can apply for long term interest-free loans worth up to 20% of the practice’s value.
A total of 172 practices have successfully applied for loans so far – around 50% of those eligible.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP said:
“The SNP Government greatly values the contribution the GP profession makes to the nation’s health and we want to make sure they have the support they need.
“Both the BMA and individual GPs have raised concerns with us about the financial risk of owning premises. So we have responded directly. This scheme helps to ‘de-risk’ general practice and reduce some of the up-front costs GPs 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. This in turn will contribute to our commitment to increase the number of GPs in Scotland by at least 800 over the next decade.”
Dr Andrew Buist, Chair of BMA Scotland’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee added:
“At the heart of the new GP contract introduced last year was a clear aim to make becoming a GP a more attractive career choice and encourage more people into working in this part of the profession.
“Key to that is reducing risk and financial burdens around choosing to be a GP. This funding is a great example of this principle in action and the practical benefits 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.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP states:
“The SNP Government recognises that practice premises are sometimes seen as an unwanted liability by potential GP partners, and this has an impact on recruitment and retention.
“This support will reduce risks and make general practice more attractive alongside other measures such as the new GP contract agreed in April 2018 and backed by £110 million this year; introduction of multi-disciplinary teams into practices and specific rural initiatives.
“These interest-free secure loans will reduce the risk of premises ownership and support a move towards GP contractors no longer being required to provide their premises.”
“I welcome this additional £20 million investment and encourage any eligible practices within North Ayrshire to apply for funding when the second round opens.”