In a move that could have a direct impact on the community pharmacy network additional funding of £15 million will be provided to GP practices to help them cope with extra pressures arising from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Around a third of the funding is intended to allow practices to remain open on Good Friday and Easter Monday if it is safe to do so – helping to alleviate pressures on out-of-hours services.
The remainder will help to cover costs of equipment, additional non-clinical staff, GP partners and locum cover for sickness leave.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
“I want to thank all GP practice staff for their incredible hard work throughout this pandemic. They are doing an invaluable job to keep crucial primary care services going in very challenging circumstances.
“Given the unprecedented situation we are in, I have taken the unusual step of asking GP practices to remain open on Good Friday and Easter Monday – but only if it is safe to do so. This will help to alleviate some pressure from out-of-hours services.
“Working with the Scottish GP Committee of BMA Scotland we have agreed a package of additional funding for GP practices to help them meet some of the costs of responding to COVID-19. Part of this will help to cover the cost of remaining open on Good Friday and Easter Monday and the remainder will help to meet other costs being faced by practices during this difficult time.”
Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee Dr Andrew Buist said:
“This is an unprecedented time for all of us, and asking GPs to keep their practices open over public holidays is not a request we have taken lightly. Practices and out of hours services are working under more pressure than ever during this pandemic and I know GPs across Scotland are willing to put in the extra work required to help the NHS fight this virus.
“Our NHS is changing, and at the forefront of that change is the primary care response. General practice is part of that protective ring around the hospital system that will help us all cope with the surge in demand we are expecting. I am extremely proud of how quickly GPs have responded to this challenge with flexibility and ingenuity. There is a huge amount of work being put in from the Scottish Government and across the system and now is the time for us to pull together, for clear thinking and strong leadership.”