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Government unveils GP spending plans

The Government has announced a £20bn increase in NHS funding over the next three years, as ministers stump up the cash to pay for Lord Darzi's NHS Next Stage Review.

Improving GP access was top of the health agenda in this week's Comprehensive Spending Review, which set out the Government's spending priorities.

£250 million will be set aside to fund the 150 new walk-in health centres and 100 new practices in areas with poor provision announced in Lord Darzi's interim review last week.

Overall spending on the NHS will increase by 4% a year above the rate of inflation, rising from £90 billion this year to £110 billion in 2010.

However, the increade is smaller than in previous years. Since 2002, the health service has been given annual rises of over 7% above inflation.

King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson warned that compared to previous years, the investment would ‘feel like a cut'.

‘This spending review marks the end of a period of huge growth in health spending,' he said. ‘However, in a fiscally tight spending review, the NHS has done well compared with other departments.'

The review also calls for ‘value for money savings' of at least £8.2 billion, by improving procurement practices, reducing variations in productivity and changing the way health services are delivered.

Nigel Edwards, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Trusts will find the three per cent efficiency saving target a real challenge, especially those who have recently emerged from financial deficit.

‘Although there has been a tendency to criticise the NHS on value for money, recent reviews have suggested that the service has in fact made significant productivity gains.'

DH

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