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Independents' Day

GPs will continue to suffer from the years of austerity

Editor’s blog

The good news: Boris Johnson is going to reduce GP waiting times!

The bad news: everything else. NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG’s decision to cut its discretionary funding of general practice by up to 30% is a good place to start, followed by the warning from CCGs’ representative body that it will be a struggle to channel the £1.50 per patient to primary care networks.

This is not the CCGs’ fault. They are operating in a system that has been underfunded throughout the ‘austerity years’, and the £20bn cash injection is not enough to overturn this. Of course, this is true in the case of the new funding for the GP contract too. But GPs will also suffer from the perilous financial state of CCGs.

I suspect this isn’t something that would have even entered Johnson’s thinking when there was the opportunity of a shiny new soundbite

CCGs are being told to ringfence the promised £1.50 funding per patient for primary care networks. But when the failing large hospital is on the front pages, this funding will become a lot less ringfenced.

And then there is the more insidious threat. This funding isn’t new money, so even if the CCGs are able to fulfil the Government’s promises, they will have to find it from somewhere. The likeliest place is from the discretionary funding already provided to practices – ie, local enhanced services or an acute visiting service – which will be either be transferred to networks or, even worse, lost altogether.

This is, of course, just a tiny example of how GPs and the NHS have suffered through the years of austerity. But, I suspect, this isn’t something that would have even entered Johnson’s thinking when there was the opportunity of a shiny new soundbite.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Austerity continues therefore so will the exodus from partnerships and primary care.The exodus and collapse will not abate.

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Thank goodness for yet another new contract that is going to save general practice.

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  • Azeem Majeed

    Good points Jaimie.

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  • We will need to ensure that we all learn to say no, if the money is cut, the service is cut. Simple

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  • DrRubbishBin

    i couldn't agree more with the above post, reduced money means reduced services. if there aren't enough GPs to see patients the patients shouldn't be able get to see a GP. the problem is always the demand to continue offering appointments even as all the support services are being stripped away. it leaves a lonely individual in a room with a brain, a computer and a printer full of prescription paper, a stethoscope, blood pressure reader, a set of scales and a steaming pile of responsibility ..oh and a telephone - that's only answered by patients, not the hospital- you have to send something electronic if you want to communicate with that lot. there's a limit to what a single individual (however much training and experience they've got) can achieve in a little room with ten minutes. you can't duck what the patient comes in with (and that's everything) , you just have to become an expert in telling folk your basically almost all they've got (unless they can wait 6 months or you can find a reason to send them to a&e - with a letter, i've given up trying to get hold of anyone on the phone)

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  • So you have an NHS subject to funding variation as the economy rises and falls, as it does. No possibility of co-funding, so take it or leave it (and go 100% private)
    Austerity is a misnomer anyway, but do we want a system solely dependant on the fiscal competence of the government or indeed its predecessor?

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  • agree with 1102. GPs collectively need to show some muscle and insist that the hospital fill a form if they wish to speak to us or send us an outpatient letter. IF they want us to prescribe something there should be 3 page form with LMP/allergies/have you considered alternatives to medication? etc. Only then will they see the madness and start to reduce red tape.

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  • The NHS costs about 120 billion a year. 10 years ago it was around 80 billion. I don't support this "free at the point of delivery" concept. The General public have show a flagrant abuse of the service for years. Surgeries and OOHs are packed with patients with minor self limiting ailments. Many would not be there if they needed to pay to see the doctor.

    Time to fundamentally change health care in the UK

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  • |Merlin | GP Partner/Principal|04 Aug 2019 8:50am

    I am glad to see a fellow libertarian. We need to organise and counter the left.

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