What should primary care look like for the next generation?


About the Inquiry

Primary Care is generally the first point of contact with the NHS (except for Accident and Emergency) for most people in Scotland when they need to access healthcare. This includes contact with many community based services and healthcare professionals as well as also a number of non-clinical roles such as practice receptionists and managers and community links workers.

Primary care areas displayed as a jigsaw

In 2015, the Scottish Government produced the National Clinical Strategy for Scotland. It was developed to look at how Healthcare needs to adapt to keep up with a growing and evolving population, huge changes in technology and the integration of Health and Social Care services across the country in the long term.

The Scottish Government's vision for the future of primary care services is for multi-disciplinary teams, made up of a variety of health professionals working together to support people in their community and give GPs more time to spend with patients in specific need of their expertise.

In line with its 2020 vision, the Scottish Government is working to transform primary care so healthcare professionals can work in new ways that will better meet changing needs and demands and allow for sustainable primary care services: 

Illustration of the primary care principles

Primary Care Transformation is about modernising primary care to deliver a safe, effective and person-centred healthcare service. It focuses on multidisciplinary team working to reduce pressures on services. It also aims to ensure better outcomes for patients with access to the right professional, at the right time, as near to home as possible.

Committee approach

The Health and Sport Committee have agreed to run an inquiry looking at the future of Primary Care in Scotland. The Committee want to hear your views on this key question:  

What should primary care look like for the next generation? 

Phase One  March - June 2019: Your views 

The first phase of the inquiry focused on gathering views and experiences mostly from the public and especially people who use primary care services across Scotland. We wanted people to tell us what they think primary care should look like to best serve their needs, how it can be accessible for all and also how the reality of cost impact can be managed. 


Illustration of the survey

How to have a say?

Primary Care public survey - DEADLINE NOW PASSED

We asked you to tell us what you thought of current services and how they could be improved and sustained in the future.

A text-only Word version of the document is below:

The deadline for completing the survey was 30 April 2019.

Public Panels 

Alongside the survey, three public panels were recruited to discuss issues similar to those in the survey.  Each panel contained up to 15 people recruited to meet a range of criteria including age, gender and socio-economic background.   

The panel gatherings were located in the North, East and West of Scotland (Inverurie, Dunfermline and Cambuslang, Glasgow), which reflected how Regional Health Boards are organised in Scotland. They had informed discussions and made recommendations to the Committee on what they thought was the way forward.

The panels, consisting of individuals drawn from the local area who had been randomly identified as covering a broad representation of the local community provided their views and ideas on what primary health should look like for the next generation.  Each panel met on two Saturdays to consider and agree their recommendations to the Committee.

The results of the survey together with the deliberations of the three panels informed a report by the Committee on Phase One which was published on Wednesday 3 July 2019.  Read the report here.

Phase Two  July 2019 onwards:  Call for views and evidence sessions

The second phase of the inquiry is more like a “traditional” Parliamentary inquiry driven by the views of service users from the activities in Phase One and hearing from the professions, including seeking their views on what the public have told us.

A report on the findings of Phase One has been published and the Committee is now seeking views on the future development of Primary Care in Scotland.

Please see our Evidence section below to link to our Phase Two call for views and details on how to submit your views.


Following the Phase Two call for views there was a series of evidence sessions with individuals representing the following areas attending as witnesses:

24 September 2019

- Allied Health Professionals;

- Multi-disciplinary teams;

1 October 2019

- Primary Care professionals;

- General Practitioners;

8 October 2019

- Local Primary Care planning;

- Voluntary sector and Primary Care;

5 November 2019

- Technology and information sharing;

- The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport;

19 November 2019

A selection of attendees who were involved in the public panels were invited to discuss the evidence presented to the Committee in phase two of the inquiry.


Phase Two: Call for views - Wednesday 10 July to Wednesday 28 August 2019

Read the call for written views here.

Read the written submissions received here.


The Auditor General for Scotland published the following report on 29 August 2019:

NHS workforce planning - part 2:  The clinical workforce in general practice 

The Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny (PAPLS) Committee considered the report at its meeting on 12 September 2019.  Following consideration of the report, the Convener of the PAPLS Committee wrote to the Health and Sport Committee to highlight key issues arising from its scrutiny to help inform Phase 2 of its Primary Care inquiry. 

Further to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport's evidence session on 5 November 2019, the Convener issued a letter following up on a number of points raised during the meeting.

On 26 November 2019 the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport responded to the Convener's letter of 12 November. 


The Committee's Phase One report "What should primary care look like for the next generation?" which was published on 3 July 2019 can be accessed on our main Committee Reports page.

The Committee's Phase Two report "What should primary care look like for the next generation? Phase II" which was published on 16 February 2021 can be accessed on our main Committee Reports page.

Ahead of the Chamber Debate on 3 March 2021, we received a response to our Phase II report from the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport on 1 March 2021.

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