GPs in Scotland to vote on contract offering partners guaranteed minimum income

Authors: Bryan Christie 

Publication date:  14 Nov 2017

GPs in Scotland are being asked to vote on a new contract that aims to cut their workload, reduce their responsibility for practice premises, and offer a guaranteed minimum income to partners.[1]

The proposed contract is the result of months of negotiation between the BMA and the Scottish health department and has been described by doctors’ leaders as “historic.” It is designed to reduce pressures on GPs and tackle recruitment and retention problems.

Some of the main changes it proposes are:

  • The transfer of certain tasks, such as responsibility for vaccinations and community mental health services, to health boards or the wider primary care team, with no loss of funding

  • A new funding formula, with £23m of new money to support practices with higher workloads, as reflected in numbers of elderly patients and those from deprived backgrounds

  • A guaranteed minimum income of £80 430 for partners—this would benefit around a fifth of Scotland’s GP partners

  • A £30m sustainability fund for GP premises, including interest free loans as part of a move to a new model of non-ownership of premises, and

  • A greater role for practice nurses in disease management.

If the contract is approved, there would be a three year transition period when tasks currently carried out by GPs would be transferred “where it is safe [and] appropriate and improves patient care.” The contract document also states, “GP practice workload will reduce and refocus under the proposals, as the wider primary care multi-disciplinary team is established and service redesign embedded.”

All GPs and trainee GPs will be able to vote on the contract in a poll that opens on 7 December and closes on 4 January. The outcome of the poll will be discussed by the BMA’s Scottish GP committee on 18 January, when a final decision will be taken.

The committee’s chair, Alan McDevitt, said, “This contract offers solutions to the pressures faced by general practice. By expanding the primary care team and working with integration authorities to improve patient access to services delivered by other professionals, such as practice nurses, pharmacists, and physiotherapists, GPs can have more time to concentrate on being GPs.

“I hope that GPs across Scotland agree that this contract will make general practice fit for the future.”


  1. BMA, Scottish Government. The 2018 general medical services contract in Scotland. Nov 2017. [Link] .

Bryan Christie Edinburgh

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: