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Introduce control of entry for GPs, think tank urges

Business Reform Scotland has said patient access to GPs could be improved by increasing competition and called for health boards to consider GP applications "in a similar way to the process to open up a new pharmacy".

GP practices in Scotland should be subject to similar control-of-entry regulations as pharmacies and change opening hours to benefit patients, an independent think tank has said.

In a policy paper published on Monday, Reform Scotland said patient access to GPs could be improved by increasing competition and called for health boards to consider GP applications "in a similar way to the process to open up a new pharmacy through control-of-entry regulations, which take account of the services the applicant would provide".

The BMA said the proposals showed a "clear lack of understanding of the reality of the work and structure"

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However, an existing GP practice in the area "should not be an obstacle" to a new market entrant, the policy group added.

The think tank contrasted GP opening hours unfavourably with pharmacies, warning current policies did not benefit patients.

"Why is it unthinkable that a private sector contractor [like GPs] be open later in the evening or at weekends to better meet the needs of its patients – after all, the pharmacists that dispense the medicine often are. It's time the system was designed to meet the needs of patients rather than the practice owners."

The British Medical Association (BMA) disagreed with the proposals, warning they showed a "clear lack of understanding of the reality of the work and structure".

"A proportion of services provided by practices are agreed locally between heath board and individual practices according to local priorities," said Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee.


Do you think GP surgeries should be subject to control-of-entry regulations similar to pharmacy?

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2 Comments

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It's a nice idea, but I believe the reality of it means this is unlikely to ever happen.

Brendan Kilgallon, Locum pharmacist

Its about time that GP surgeries catered for the majority of patients needs. Maybe even supermarket hours of say 06.30 to 22.30?

GP's surgeries accommodating their patients needs! Marvellous. And then to make it completely realistic (in a retail pharmacy sense) allow any other GP surgery to open up anywhere around it as long as they open for 100 hours or more. Marvellous.

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