Scottish Doctors Welcome 'Ban' On Private GPs

One of the UK's top doctors' representative bodies, the BMA, has warmly welcomed an announcement this week by the First Minister, Alex Salmond, that his Government is to block private companies setting up medical general practices.

Ministers in Scotland are now planning to amend the general practitioner contract to make it illegal for private companies to run primary care services in the country.

In July, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, was warmly applauded when she told the BMA's annual representatives’ meeting that the 'legal loopholes' allowing private firms to bid to run general practices in Scotland would be closed.

Ms Sturgeon told the representatives in Edinburgh that the United Kingdom's health services face a "battle of ideas" between a future that is based on mutuality rooted in a public service ethos and one that is driven by market forces.
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Dr Brian Keighley, Deputy Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said on Wednesday: "The measures announced by the First Minister to protect NHS general practice are very welcome and reflects the importance of general practice as the cornerstone of the NHS.

"General Practice, delivered under the auspices of the NHS will ensure that patient care comes before profit and patients can be assured of continuity of care. In order to maintain services to patients, however, the Scottish Government must ensure that it develops and delivers a clear strategy for General Practice in partnership with the profession."

The BMA also welcomed plans to introduce tougher public health measures to tackle alcohol misuse and make it more difficult for children to purchase tobacco.

Dr Keighley added: "Doctors across Scotland witness first hand the damaging effects that alcohol misuse and a lifetime of addiction to tobacco can have on their patients.

"The SNP has taken up the mantle to challenge Scotland's reputation as the sick man of Europe and, in light of recent WHO statistics there is clearly some way to go.

"The BMA therefore supports many of the initiatives outlined in the Tobacco Action Plan, in particular measures to prevent the tobacco industry from flouting existing advertising legislation," he said.


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