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New RCGP chair launches campaign to boost general practice funding

The new RCGP chair has launched a campaign urging the Government to boost the proportion of total NHS spending general practice receives to 11% by 2017, as latest figures show funding has slumped to all-time low.

Dr Maureen Baker, who took over from Professor Clare Gerada at council on Saturday, said the proportion of the total NHS budget general practice receives is now even lower than previously estimated, at 8.4% – the lowest ever recorded.

A report published by the college and the National Association for Patient Participation showed the figure has fallen nearly 2% since 2004/2005, when it was 10.4%.

The RCGP said falling investment has caused GPs to fear about the standard of care they can provide, with two recent surveys showing 70% of GPs fear waiting times will get worse over the next two years, while 80% say they can no longer provide ‘high-level’ patient care and 47% have had to withdraw services.

Giving general practice 11% of the budget would protect patients from further cuts and enable GPs to deliver shorter waiting times, more flexible opening hours and more online services, as well as longer consultations, better continuity of care and better co-ordination of care for the frail elderly and those with complex care needs, the report stated.

Dr Baker said the current trend runs contrary to the Government’s stated aims on moving care in the community and must be reversed.

She added: ‘On the one hand, the people who run the NHS across the UK say they want more people to be cared for in the community. On the other, resources have relentlessly drifted away from community-based health services towards more expensive hospital-based care.’

‘The flow of funding away from general practice has been contrary to the rhetoric and has happened in the absence of any overall strategy as to how we spend the NHS budget.’

She added: ‘The share of the NHS budget spent on general practice has slumped to the lowest point on record. The various NHS bodies and governments who decide how we divide the NHS funding cake in the UK have inadvertently allowed a situation to develop in which funding for general practice is being steadily eroded.  With services now at breaking point, it’s time to come up with a plan to turn the tide.’

‘We need to increase our investment in general practice as a matter of urgency, so that we can take the pressure off our hospitals, where medical provision is more expensive, and ensure that more people can receive care where they say they want it - in the community.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • I totally agree with Dr Baker. Money should follow work. If 90% of patient contact are with GPs, it is time, some real money followed the work as well. Invest in some 21st century GP premises as well. We practice from 4 very small and very old buildings which are not appropriate for high level of care. I wish we were given funding to get new premises , could be through various innovative ideas.

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  • Wake up !! They dont want primary care to work in is current format. Start charging patients and it will become self funding - this will represent a saving for the government of 8.4%.
    Who in their right mind would continue with decreasing funding in primary care, whinning about the lack of services and quality provided by secondary care despite cash injections at every oppurtunity

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  • Ivan Benett

    Stop moaning and get in the game. We will only get more resources by taking activity out of secondary care. That means better access to consistent high quality Primary Care for all. Better identification and management of long term condition esp cardiovascular, respiratory, cancer and dementia; managing hard to reach populations like homeless, students and care home populations; managing people at the end of life; reducing admissions, readmissions and unnecessary referrals that can be managed in Primary Care.
    That way we shift or rebalance resources into primary care. There is no magic wand in a cash strapped system such as we have. Can we do it? As the man said, Yes We Can, actually we have to.
    All you anonymous angry contributors, stop barking from the sidelines and join in. Believe it or not, this is the age of Primary Care if only you can see it

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  • I totally agree with Maureen and also to incentivise the fraternity for the extra work they do and for innovative ideas to keep patients away from A&E[minors]

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  • Breath. Of. Fresh. Air. A Chair with the wherewithal to know which fight to pick. This is winnable. The facts are in our favour. With three years ahead of her, my money's on Mo. Go Mo!

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