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#GPnews: GP leaders react to social care budget announcements

17:00 The Sun has picked up on the RCGP's warning that more patients could flock to A&E if they're told they can see a GP there.

16:55 Also commenting on the £2bn increase to social care funding, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: 'The entire health and social care system is in crisis so the extra funding for social care is a good start, but it is only a short term sticking plaster and we must make sure that the extra investment and additional GPs promised by NHS England in the GP Forward View do not fall by the wayside.

'When social care is not properly resourced, it has a serious impact on patients and creates a knock-on effect on the care GPs and our teams can provide. We must start seeing good healthcare as a tripod, with robust general practice, hospital and social care services as three linked elements; all must be appropriately resourced, and work together seamlessly, so that we can deliver care that is in the best interests of patients.

She also commented on plans to fund selected sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) out of a new £325m pot.

'The promise of extra funding for only a small number of local STPs reflects the mixed quality of these plans, and we remain concerned that promised improvements in GP services are not reflected in many of the current proposals. This money must be ploughed into GP and other community services and frontline patient care and not used to plug gaping financial holes in hospital trusts. We will be monitoring the situation closely and expect more detail in the Autumn statement.

'We repeat our calls on the government to review funding for the whole of health and social care – and to implement the pledges made in NHS England’s GP Forward View, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more full time equivalent GPs by 2020 - so that we can all deliver the care our patients need and deserve.'

16:45 BMA chair Dr Mark Porter was unimpressed with the Spring Budget, saying that it 'does nothing to address the gaping hole in NHS finances'.

He said: 'There is a £30bn gap to fill and we should be increasing the UK’s health spending by at least £10.3bn to match that of other leading European economies[1]. The NHS and social care are at breaking point and have been failed by party politics for too long. We need politicians from all sides to come together to agree a long-term solution to the challenges facing health and social care.

'We have a crisis in social care happening right now, so any funding to help provide the care patients so clearly need is a help. Failures within the social care system hugely affect an already stretched, overworked and underfunded NHS - most NHS trust finance directors have said that cuts in local authority social care budgets are adversely affecting NHS services. For doctors to look after patients well, social care needs to be well-funded and adequately staffed.

He also criticised the plan to spend £100m on putting GPs in A&E to do triage - see full quote in our story.

Dr Porter went on to say: 'The chancellor’s announcement of £325m of funding for some STPs is unlikely to go far enough, and we know that the plans need at least £9.5bn of total capital funding to be delivered successfully.

'Our health service is one of the best in the world, but is, increasingly, failing too many people for too much of the time. Put simply, today’s budget does not go far enough to address this.'

16:30 There was a surprising number of GP-relevant aspects to today's Spring Budget.

This included not least a £100m spend to be put towards increased GP triage in A&E.

But, as the eagle-eyed GP community pointed out, there was no suggestion of where these GPs were going to come from.

In other not-so-good news, the statement also announced that National Insurance contributions will increase for GP partners starting in 2018.

And locums could also take a tax hit, medical accountants warned.

So was there anything good in the budget? Well, a £2bn increased spend to social care is not exactly bad news.

But it emerged this was to be spread across three years, and some commenters referred to the funding as 'a drop in the ocean' when compared to the scale of the crisis faced by councils trying to pay for the rising cost of elderly care services.

12:20 Patients will soon be able to get a primary care diagnosis 'without ever having to see a GP', reports today's Telegraph.

It says that Babylon Health, which is trialling a 'chatbot' version of NHS 111 in London, was looking at expanding the model.

Dr Ali Parsa, founder of Babylon, said his solution leaves medics able to focus on treating rather than diagnosing diseases.

Dr Parsa said: 'There are 300 million pieces of knowledge that we have collected.

'No human brain can do that. This is the largest amount of primary care clinical semantic knowledge in the would that is held by any computer, as far as we know.'

11:00 People in the UK aren't feeling very optimistic about the NHS, according to a new international survey.

09:45 Amazon’s assistant, Alexa, has learned a new skill and will now answer basic medical queries through WebMD. According toThe Verge, any Alexa-enabled devices (for example Amazon Echo), will be able to respond to commands such as ‘Ask WebMD how to treat a sore throat’ or ‘Ask WebMD what diabetes is’.

WebMD has emphasised that this will only offer supplementary information, as the website does.

Ben Greenberg, WebMD’s vice president of mobile products, told the Verge: ‘[This] is going to be really helpful in situations where you want to access something hands-free.

’For example, a mom with her baby. The baby’s got a rash and is on amoxicillin, and there’s poop all over the place and it’s scary. The mom can find out that diarrhea is a side effect of amoxicillin, without having to navigate through a visual interface.’

Seen something interesting? Email newsdesk@pulsetoday.co.uk or tweet @pulsetoday with the hashtag #GPnews

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