A series of recommendations aimed at improving primary healthcare for remote, rural and island communities have been welcomed by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP.
The recommendations, which include developing a National Centre for Remote, Rural and Island Care and reaffirming commitments to maintaining GP income, are made in a report by the Remote and Rural Working Group, chaired by Sir Lewis Ritchie.
Ms Freeman said:
“Much of Scotland is rural and those who live in remote or island communities have a right to expect access to the highest quality medical care.
“The new GP contract is bringing improvements and the Working Group was established to help ensure that the challenges specific to rural and island areas were addressed.
“These recommendations aim to enhance primary care across remote, rural and island communities by ensuring stability for GP incomes alongside other measures that support innovative approaches to the use of IT and physical infrastructure, as well as recruitment and retention practices.
“I thank Sir Lewis and his colleagues for all the work involved in developing this important report and look forward to continuing to work with them and others to continually improve the GP contract.”
Sir Lewis Ritchie said:
“The future wellbeing of Scottish general practice and primary care is of paramount importance both for those who receive and deliver services.
“I hope that this report, kindly informed both by health professionals and public representatives will help to underpin excellence and sustainability of future services in remote, rural and island areas throughout Scotland.
“Going forward, we must do this well, with resolve and together."
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“As per its 2019/20 programme, the SNP Government continues to work in the knowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to primary healthcare. The next phase of primary care reform will promote innovation and coproduced local solutions, with a focus on rural, island and deprived communities and this perfectly ties into the concept of Island Proofing.
“Not only on Cumbrae and Arran, but also in mainland North Ayrshire we know how important it is to recruit and retain GPs and I welcome the prospect of increased stability for rural and island practitioners."
The Remote and Rural Group was formed by the SNP Government and the BMA in June 2018 to support the implementation of the new GP contract for remote, rural and island populations. Read the full report here.