On the basis of current opinion polls, Scotland will vote to reject independence in the referendum on 18 September 2014. The same opinion polls would suggest that GPs belong to the group of voters more likely to vote ‘no’. A ‘yes’ vote would be a massive leap into the unknown, with concerns over our incomes, superannuation, and pensions. We do not know what currency we will be using, and the President of the European Commission has stated that it is unlikely that the existing states would agree to us joining the European Union immediately.
Health matters are fully devolved and are diverging significantly from England but despite there being more money and staff, life expectancy and health outcomes in Scotland are poorer. Wealth will decrease with independence, with a high dependency on short-term fluctuating oil revenues and their long-term decline. Companies such as BP, Shell, and Standard Life are now voicing their business concerns and there are worries about the effects on employment. Our representative and professional bodies have, however, refrained from voicing a collective opinion for fear of causing offence.
The ‘Better Together Campaign’ stresses the advantages and security of working together. As the QOF has diverged in Scotland, practices are aware of the difficulties and frustrations of ‘going it alone’, especially in relation to the delays in introducing the IT to support the QOF. Our representatives’ existing policy is that changes should not be introduced until the IT support is in place but this has not happened. The solution for the BMA in Scotland is to consider whether the QOF remains the best mechanism for delivering a substantial proportion of our income.1 Practice staff trying to deliver good quality outcomes need to be braced for substantial uncertainty and upheaval in the coming years, even if the ‘head’ wins over the ‘heart’ in the September referendum.
Dr Alan Begg, GP, Scotland
1. BMA website. Scottish General Practitioners Committee. Letter from SGPC Chair Alan McDevitt on the GMS contract 2014–2015. bma.org.uk/working-for-change/negotiating-for-the-profession/bma-general-practitioners-committee/scottish-general-practitioners-committee/gms-contract-letter
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The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education has launched a free app designed for healthcare professionals to test their knowledge on high-risk areas for medicines safety incidents. It provides a quiz with a series of 10 multiple choice questions chosen randomly from a bank of questions for each topic or mixed up in a ‘Lucky Dip’. The topics included so far are:
- medicines safety.
The app is aimed towards hospital staff and designed to be used by junior doctors, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, non-medical prescribers and undergraduate trainees.
For more information please visit: www.cppe.ac.uk
Update your knowledge:
GP curriculum heading 3.10—Care of people with mental health problems
- To find out more about how to recognise social anxiety disorder in your patients, read the article here