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NHS chief hints at transfer of hundreds of millions of pounds to general practice

The NHS has been ‘pennywise and pound foolish’ by underfunding general practice, and has hinted that he would look to transfer hundreds of millions of pounds from secondary care to general practice, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has said.

Mr Stevens suggested increased funds could come to general practice ‘in the short term’ in the form of ‘at least a third of a billion pounds’ in return for demand being absorbed in general practice rather than hospitals.

He also said NHS England would soon be making a ‘big announcement’ around pharmacists and practices working closer together, while describing general practice workforce issues as one of NHS England’s ‘must get right’ things for the next five years.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool today, Mr Stevens said the costing, set out by the RCGP, was a ‘compelling one’, adding that general practice would also have to work more efficiently in new care models such as multi-speciality community providers and GP federations.

He said: ‘We have sometimes been pennywise and pound-foolish and that is nowhere more evident than in our relative under-investment in primary care, general practice. I think that the case that the RCGP makes for investment in general practice, sizing that as at least a third of a billion pounds of savings in offset demand flowing up to hospitals in the short term is a compelling one.’

Mr Stevens was also put on the spot by conference delegates about GP workforce issues. He said a number of key things had to happen, including improving recruitment and retention.

He said: ‘We have got to not only make it more attractive to come into general practice but we’ve got to probably take a range of other measures to try and hit this goal of 50% of new medical graduates will go into general practice.’

GP workloads had to be addressed, he said, trailing a forthcoming announcement about pharmacists working with GP practices.

He said: ‘We’ve got to get more serious about multi-disciplinary working in primary care, including pharmacists and we are going to be saying more about that quite soon.’

Also in response to a question, Mr Stevens promised that he would personally look into the issue of rising GP indemnity costs which are making it harder to staff out-of-hours shifts.

He said: ‘It sounds like that is the kind of thing that would be hard for an individual out of hours co-op or CCG to sort but perhaps collectively we could do that nationally, so I will certainly take a look at that personally.

Within the same speech, Mr Stevens also announced that NHS England alongside Monitor, TDA, CQC and HEE will be placing a number of English health economies into a new ‘success regime’ measure, whereby they will diagnose long term ‘systemic inbalance’ which is affecting quality or structure of their services or financial problems.

He said the first areas would be Essex, north Cumbria and northeast and west Devon, with more potentially to follow.

These areas will be helped by national advice and £10m fund, NHS England explained, with Mr Stevens describing the move as ‘a different way of having a structured intervention in trying to put those places onto sustainable footing’.

Readers' comments (27)

  • With 2004 contract improving GPland:
    ->Held breath, went blue, collapsed and breathed again.
    Not sure I'll try that again

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  • Vinci Ho

    Always like the right half of Harvey Dent's face:

    At 26, Harvey Dent is the youngest district attorney to serve Gotham City, and is nicknamed "Apollo" for his good looks and clean-cut image.

    But not sure when he will turn to his left side , well scarred face to us ...........
    I suppose , keep an open mind.....

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  • Just wait until you see the impossible hoops to jump through to get this money. Cripple GPs financially then suddenly turn good guy and offer huge sums of money to relieve them, they will grab at it in desperation without asking what are you holding behind your back in your other hand. Simon Stevens' 5 year forward plan for the NHS makes clear he wants the end of general practice as we know it, but desperate and gullible GPs and of course the bunny-hugging rcgp and naive GPC will fall for it.
    This won't improve anything guys and gals.

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  • Mid thirties; ex GP partner/ Ex university clinical tutor/ ex LMC representative; Emigrated

    You could put all the money in all of blighty into the NHS pot but the muppets running the show wouldn't change.......... the mentality of the idiots at the top is whats destroying the NHS...... you can keep your money and ill keep the sunshine...., I and most of my buddies of similar age wont be coming back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Pharmacists embedded in the practice is a good idea but having adequate ditrict nursing support would be more useful. So you recognise there is recruitment problem but what actually are you going to do about it? I am 58 and a third and am full of clinical wisdom that can keep patients away from hospitals but I'm drifting away . How much do you really want to keep me? Hinting is not a particularly good strategy by the way.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    58 and a third: why the HELL are you still there, dear colleague? Out here in retirement land, the sun is shining and I no longer have to be up at 0600 for my "Extended hours". I only get up that early to go fishing now!

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  • 47 and fu....d. Pension changes mean partners in their early midfifties retiring; last man standing, pension changes well and trully shafted!
    But will make major life decision to go if things don't improve and soon.

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  • So £300 million for general practice. That equates to only £5 per patient, presumably annually recurring. For that it appears general practice will have to stop all patients that can be managed in primary care from going to A&E. Absolutely impossible to do. Besides, the latest evidence from the College of Emergency Medicine showed that patients still attend A&E even if given a GP appointment.

    The answer is not more access for patients, but brakes on demand.

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  • My friend and partner recently died suddenly at 46 . This gives one an acute perspective. I'm 43, 14 years a partner , trained numerous GPs , love my practice and still get reward from the job.....but looking to leave altogether. We are being shoehorned into failure through chronic underfunding and there is no fix. It feels like a war of attrition we are loosing .Real lives are being lost. Politicians really don't give a shit about us - cannon fodder - expendable.

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  • The "success regime" that health areas are being put into sounds terribly soviet as does some of the other phrasing being used by NHS England. They only want good news stories even if the masses are getting poor or no health coverage.
    Why is so much money being spent by hospitals on management consultants when you've got managers and consultants already in Trusts? Surely between them they can come up with viable local solutions. It's ridiculous

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