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Supporting rural GPs

Health Secretary accepts recommendations.

A series of recommendations aimed at improving primary healthcare for remote, rural and island communities have been welcomed by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. 

The recommendations, which include developing a National Centre for Remote, Rural and Island Care and reaffirming commitments to maintaining GP income, are made in a report by the Remote and Rural Working Group, chaired by Sir Lewis Ritchie. 

Ms Freeman said:

“Much of Scotland is rural and those who live in remote or rural communities have a right to expect access to the highest quality medical care.

“The new GP contract is bringing improvements and the Working Group was established to help ensure that the challenges specific to rural areas were addressed.

“These recommendations aim to enhance primary care across remote, rural and island communities by ensuring stability for rural GP incomes alongside other measures that support innovative approaches to the use of IT and physical infrastructure, as well as recruitment and retention practices.

“I thank Sir Lewis and his colleagues for all the work involved in developing this important report and I look forward to continuing to work with them and others to continually improve the GP contract.”

Sir Lewis Ritchie said:

“The future wellbeing of Scottish general practice and primary care is of paramount importance both for those who receive and deliver services.

“I hope that this report, kindly informed both by health professionals and public representatives, will help to underpin excellence and sustainability of future services in remote and rural areas throughout Scotland.

“Going forward, we must do this well, do this with resolve, and do this together."


The Remote and Rural Group was formed by the Scottish Government and the BMA in June 2018 to support the implementation of the new GP contract for remote, rural and island populations. Read the full report.

Sir Lewis Ritchie OBE is presently James Mackenzie Professor of General Practice, University of Aberdeen and Honorary Professor of Primary Care and Public Health, University of the Highlands and Islands, Honorary Professor of General Practice, University of Edinburgh and Honorary Consultant in Public Health, NHS Grampian. 

He is a former Principal General Practitioner, Peterhead Health Centre and Community Hospital.  He has also held posts as Director of Public Health, NHS Grampian and Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Grampian Health Board.

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