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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Chancellor, general practice needs more money in the autumn statement

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The upcoming autumn statement on 23 November is a chance to avert the crisis in general practice. General practice is gasping for breath and is on life support machine due to plummeting investment and increasing demands.

The funding for general practice in England has slumped to just 8.5% of the total NHS budget in last six years. To prevent the meltdown of the general practice, the chancellor Philip Hammond needs to take steps to increase funding in the primary care to at least 11% in his autumn statement.

Without this, the very future of the general practice is at risk.

In the current climate, it is unsurprising that many of the next generation of doctors are turning their backs on a career in general practice, with more than 600 trainee vacancies left empty last year: it means there are even fewer staff to deliver the appointments our unhealthy, ageing, expanding population needs. A couple of decades ago, GPs approaching 70 had to be persuaded to retire. Now, the average age of retirement is 59. This is a ticking time bomb.

Cuts in the name of ‘efficiency savings’ have eaten away at the NHS to the point where it is down to its bare bones. Health spending is facing almost unimaginable cuts over the next five years. Every health think-tank has been sounding the alarm in recent months.

If economy nose dives as predicted, Philip Hammond, the chancellor, could even seek to end the service’s already leaking funding ‘ring-fence’. This isn’t shroud-waving – the figures show the NHS in general, and general practice in particular is on its knees. 

There is speculation that Simon Stevens’, the NHC England chief executive who has said he wants to revive general practice by restoring funding levels to 11%, may have a reduced political influence after the departure of David Cameron and George Osborne, who oversaw his appointment and worked closely with him.

This means he may not be able to secure the extra funding promised to primary care in the GP Forward View. My real worry is a more right-wing government would use NHS funding crisis to tell British public that a free universal health care is not affordable, and wash its hands of the NHS.

We need Philip Hammond to increase the percentage of the NHS budget for general practice in his autumn statement. Without this, the reality is that patient care – and the very future of the general practice – is at risk.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is a retired GP and former deputy chair of BMA council. You can follow him on Twitter @kailashchandobe

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Readers' comments (15)

  • "tell British public that a free universal health care is not affordable, and wash its hands of the NHS".
    The truth must be terrifying to those who have spent a lifetime denying it

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  • Tax financial transactions to pay for it. There is more " money " made by shifting digits about than was ever created by producing things or providing a beneficial service.

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  • The general public are in for a very nasty shock.

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  • " tell British public that a free universal health care is not affordable,"

    Every other civilised country on the planet tells that to its citizens Kailash, even your socialist paradise Sweden charges for GP appointments.

    British socialists are unique on this planet for being in denial of something that is understood by socialists in every other country.

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  • trouble is everyone is in "crisis". Social care/prisons/housing etc.

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  • Just paid £62 for 30 minutes with a dental hygienist (takes three years to train). So £124 per hour with 2 patients for a dental hygienist v £80 or less per hour for a GP (10 or 11 years of training) with 6 or 7 patients, many with multiple problems,visits, prescriptions, hospital letters to action, QoF, DeS, LeS, meetings (frequently unpaid), huge malpractice insurance, hounded by the Government, public and media....

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  • The General practice is now at a more pivotal stage than it has ever been since I became a GP more than 20 years ago. The financial squeeze on health services will get much tighter over the next five years, with spending per person on the NHS falling by 9%. The real victim of efficiency savings and cuts in social care is essentially general practice. STPs ICOs MCPs are all ignoring the cries of help for general practice . Phil Hammond is faced with whole £100 Bilion,what chance general practice has to get even a penny?

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  • When the whole world is aflame, what good is a water pistol?

    We won't get another penny. And, to be honest, it's not being starved that matters - many are in that boat; teachers, police, social workers, prison officers to name but a few. It's being beaten up while we are starved - the CQC are the most obvious example - that really hurts.

    Now, back to my ladder protocol.

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  • The exits are here, here, here and here. In the event we fall out of the sky, jump.

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  • Vinci Ho

    As I said before , Simon Stevens is having a similar fate as Mark Carney. Perhaps, he is already looking for another job for himself (back to America?)
    The government will blame the failure of NHS on all of us , particularly those on the frontline , 'you rebels destroyed the health service despite our best effort to save it' .
    Then , naturally and logically , people will have to pay . Happy days for Agent Hunt and the rest.....,

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