New report reveals funding differences at Dundee doctor surgeries

Patients wait outside the Broughty Ferry Health Centre.

Doctors’ surgeries across Dundee are receiving widely differing levels of funding, a new report has revealed.

Figures from NHS Scotland show a gap of £67 per head between the best and least-funded practices in the city.

Broughty Ferry Health Centre received £113 for each of its 9,245 patients last year.

However, Erskine Practice, based in Arthurstone Medical Centre, received £180 per head for its 7,149 patients.

The Scottish Government, which decides the annual GP budget, said a new contract was being negotiated to ensure financing was fair.

Professor Bruce Guthrie, of the University of Dundee, said funding should be targeted at those in greatest need.

He said: “The payment is higher for people who use general practice more such as under-fives, older people and people living in more deprived areas.

“The intent is to match funding to need and we’d expect funding to vary by practice because the populations served vary. The big question is whether the variation is fair.”

Professor Guthrie said that, based on previous analysis carried out by the university, the current formula does not fund GP practices fairly.

He added: “My overall take on this is that primary care funding favours the rich over the poor. I hope that the new GP contract due to be announced shortly will address this inequity.”

Dr Andrew Cowie, chairman of Tayside Local Medical Committee, said GP funding was a “complex issue” and the current formula was not without issue among local doctors.

He said: “How this is calculated is a constant source of debate. There are also historical issues, meaning that most people believe the system has not been doing exactly what we want. It is possible things will change.”

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison told the Tele funding for GP services had increased every year since 2007. She added: “Funding is primarily determined by list size, the characteristics of the patient population and the services provided by the practice, so there will be variation across practices.

“We commissioned a review of general practice funding, pay and expenses to provide robust evidence for the 2018 GP contract negotiations.

“The new GP contract, to be published shortly, will provide significant benefits for GPs, patients and healthcare staff and allow GPs to focus their time on the most complex cases.”