General practice funding increases by 4%
The Governments of the UK increased spending on general practice by more than 4% last year, according to official data.
NHS Digital said general practice investment rose by 4.4% to a total of £11.03bn in 2015/16, including the cost of reimbursement for drugs dispensed in practices.
Broken down by country, England saw the largest increase of 4.7%, from £9.03bn to £9.45bn, although the average payment to practices per registered patient increased by just 1% during the same time period.
In the devolved nations, the data showed general practice funding increases of:
- 4.5% in Northern Ireland (from £255.2m to £266.8m);
- 2.2% in Wales (from £478.1m to £488.3m);
- and 1.5% in Scotland (from £809.9m to £822.3m).
Meanwhile, NHS Digital figures which covered England only showed a 1% growth to average payments per registered patient of £1.53, from £141.09 to £142.62.
Average total funding per practice was £1.04m in 2015/16. For the first time, the data included payments for locally commissioned services by CCGs, which amounted to £267m across England.
But doctors’ leaders said more investment was needed to meet demand, after a steady 10-year decline in the proportion of NHS funding spent on general practice.
GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'As the detail behind these figures confirms, general practice has suffered from decades of under-investment with the proportion of funding GP services receive dropping as a proportion of the NHS budget from 10% in 2004/05 to 8.1% today.
'There are signs that the proportion of funding is beginning on a small scale to increase, however this does not match the relentless expansion in workload and activity in GP surgeries, which has left many without the necessary resources to sustain an effective service to patients.'