Around £14 million is being made available next year so that patients can get better access to general practice and mental health services in the community.
In 2016-17, £9.5 million will be used to help deliver projects across Scotland that will trial new ways of delivering health care in the community, and £3.5 million will be invested in local initiatives to improve support for mental health in primary care settings.
It is the latest tranche of funding to be released as part of the £85 million three-year Primary Care Fund, which includes funding for mental health.
The Scottish Government is inviting bids from GPs and NHS boards, with Integrated Joint Boards, for the funding – with the aim of kick-starting the re-design of primary care across Scotland.
Health Secretary Shona Robison commented:
‘As a Government, we are committed to supporting and developing local GP and primary care services. What is clear is that the existing model of delivering these services is no longer sustainable and we need to act now to redesign the way care is provided in the community.
‘That means increasing the role that other health professionals play in delivering primary care ‘ making it much more of a team approach and enabling GPs to focus on those patients specifically in need of their care.
‘This fund will allow us to test and evaluate what works in individual communities, with a view to spreading out the most successful models of care across Scotland.’
The funding will encourage GP practices to work together in clusters, as well as taking a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care within the community. This will involve health professionals such as pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health professionals and Advanced Nurse Practitioners in delivering aspects of patient care ‘ freeing up GPs to focus on more complex cases and provide clinical leadership.
It will build on progress already underway to make GP and primary care services more sustainable long-term, including:
– £85 million three-year investment in primary care to: test new models of delivering services through the Primary Care Transformation Fund; support the development of a National Delivery Plan to take forward the recommendations of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s National Review of Out of Hours Services; support GP recruitment, retention and leadership; develop online GP services; build capacity and capability of the primary care workforce; purchase equipment and support the Scottish School of Primary Care to assist evaluation of this work.
– Five primary care test sites already up and running in Inverclyde, Govan, Edinburgh, Tayside and Grampian;
– Removal of the bureaucratic system of GP payments (Quality Outcomes Framework) from April;
– GP training places increased by a third from this year and increased support for return to practice schemes;
– Working with the BMA to develop a brand new three-year contract for GPs in Scotland from 2017.
The investment for mental health services will be used to develop new models of primary care support for people with mental health challenges, to ensure access to the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible, in the most appropriate setting.
It will build on the £54.1 million investment being made in improving access to services for children and adolescents, and to psychological therapies for all ages.
Ms Robison added:
‘It is vital that our NHS is properly equipped to give those who are suffering from a mental health condition access to support and treatment as quickly as possible.
‘This Government has been investing substantially in mental health services for a number of years but we know that demand is increasing and so more needs to be done to ensure people can get timely access to the most appropriate support they require – both in and out-of-hours.
‘Around 90 per cent of mental health problems are treated in primary care settings. This project funding provides local health boards, working with their partners, with a real opportunity to think differently about how local services are organised and to develop new models of care.
‘This support ‘ part of the £150m we are investing up to 2019/20 ‘ will support the transformation of primary care mental health services for the benefit of patients of all ages in our communities. I look forward to seeing the proposals that come forward from local areas, which will help inform how we invest in mental health services going forward.’