General Practice Week
Health: The importance of support during children's early years Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
I thank Richard Simpson for securing the debate and for arranging the reception last night, at which I was pleased to talk to quite a few GPs from across Scotland, including one from Leith, in my constituency. I also thank all the GPs and primary health care teams throughout Scotland for all the work they do—especially my GP in the Leith Walk surgery, who is simply the best and whom I would be very happy to nominate as GP of the year. However, I am sure that I am not the only person to feel that way about their GP, because the relationship between an individual and their GP is central to the NHS. Indeed, as the very great Don Berwick—I think Richard Simpson thought I was going to say "the very great Richard Simpson"—said in a recent article, it is the

"jewel in the Crown of the NHS."

It was very kind of Mary Scanlon to remind me of one of my better soundbites—one of my few soundbites, actually—when she quoted my

statement that "If it can be done in primary care, it should be done in primary care."—[Official Report, 25 April 2002; c 11239.]

I think that that embodies an important truth. There have been developments that have moved the health service in that direction over the years, but I am sure that we all agree that it could go further.

Mary Scanlon's second comment, about the contract, was not quite so kind. I want gently to challenge her on it, because I believe that what I said about giving

"renewed focus to quality and outcomes"—[Official Report, 25 September 2002; c 14104.] was in fact one of the results of the GP contract.

Both the consultants contract and the GP contract have been subject to quite a lot of criticism. I will not talk about the former in this debate, but I have always been pleased with the GP contract, not least because of the quality and outcomes framework and the idea of rewarding health professionals because of positive actions that they take. It is a shame that most of the public probably do not know about the quality and outcomes framework, but many thousands of people benefit from it every day of the year. It was also one of the subjects that came up at the reception last night. Notwithstanding GPs' particular criticism about the way in which the access points are arrived at, they recognise that it has brought enormous benefits to patients, particularly in respect of preventive health care—especially on issues to do with heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Obviously, the minister and the professionals will listen to some of the points that Ian McKee made, but the principle that was established is good and, fundamentally, it was a good contract. I accept that there are issues in rural areas that the Health and Sport Committee is considering but, in urban areas, such as the one that I represent, out-of-hours arrangements are working very satisfactorily.

The BMA has produced a report in connection with general practice week. Most of us are happy to go along with a lot of the recommendations in the report, which goes with the general direction of travel on health in Scotland. I think that the minister recognises that there is some continuity on that between different Administrations. It was encouraging to have that general direction of travel, particularly the importance that continues to be attached to general practice in Scotland, endorsed by the health professionals last night. In fact, they contrasted the situation here with some developments in England. I know that the minister will look at the recommendations in the report and respond positively to them. I look forward to hearing her now.
February 11th 2010, (Column 23883-4)