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Investing in GP core funding would make savings in long-term, finds study

The financial cost of a 10% boost in GP core funding to the NHS would be cancelled out by savings on secondary care, a study by GP academics has shown.

The researchers found the 10% funding hike would cost the NHS around £7,600 per 1,000 registered patients, but would be offset by savings of £6,400 owing to reduced A&E attendances and emergency admissions.

The team said even further savings would likely be made through reductions in outpatient referrals that they were not able to capture in the study, so the extra investment would be ‘more than offset’.

The GPC said the study reinforced the case for investing in general practice, and agreed that the cost savings could be even greater when the reduction of pressure on the rest of the health system is taken into account. 

The study looked at the relationship between the practices’ funding – incorporating the global sum and MPIG – and the amount of outpatient referrals, A&E visits and emergency admissions to hospital, at over 4,000 GMS practices.

There was a significant relationship for A&E visits and emergency admissions, so that for every 10% increase in core funding there were 7.9 fewer A&E visits and 1.8 fewer emergency admissions per 1,000 registered patients.

From this the team calculated that investing 10% more in general practice would cost £7,571 per 1,000 patients but save £6,354.

In addition, the team found this boost in funding led to a statistically significant 2% increase in patient satisfaction.

Study co-author Dr Mark Ashworth, a GP in south London and senior clinical lecturer at Kings College London, told Pulse the team would expect even greater savings, as a result of reductions in outpatient referrals – which they weren’t able to include in their model.

Dr Ashworth said: ‘It was nearly a break even anyway on our analysis. But you’ve also got 2% more satisfied patients. Plus we weren’t able to analyse the detailed outpatient costs because the data wasn’t available – and I’m pretty sure that if you looked you at areas like asthma, diabetes and COPD you would really start to see significant savings.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the GPC, said: ‘This study vindicates our position – which is obvious to GPs – that investing in GP practices will reap benefits for the NHS.

‘And the actual savings will go well beyond these, in terms of improved patient satisfaction and access to the GP, it will also allow GPs to have more time with patients – and less need for patients to be seen in other sectors.’

Readers' comments (11)

  • And all this without a KPI - does this report suggest Trusting GPs? Radical.

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  • shame that we need to have a study to prove that if you starve and undermine the foundations of a service, everything above will soon collapse.

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  • 1230 has the most important point.

    this money was shown to be beneficial - WITHOUT the need for pointless care plans, MDTs or other pointless surrogate markers.

    It just makes total sense.

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  • Meanwhile;

    http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(16)00276-2.pdf

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  • This is made on the false assumption that the Tories would want to save the NHS. They clearly have other plans because Hunt was reappointed .

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  • There is zero appetite to give general practice more funding because the Daily Mail hates GPs.

    There is (relatively) more desire to fund hospitals because the Daily Mail likes hospitals.

    This undercuts any serious point to be made in this policy area.

    Besides, the DM would spin this as; "GP led study calls for more money for GPs, already highest paid in the Universe".

    So you wasted your time folks.

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  • Am I missing something, or can no one count..?! This article is proposing that we invest £7571 to save £6375 per1000 patients. This clearly is not cost effective as it loses almost £200 per 1000 patients. With maths skills like this, small wonder the NHS is heading for financial meltdown with you lot in charge of commissioning

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  • Anonymous | Work for health provider18 Jul 2016 7:51pm

    Yes You are missing something..try reading the article slowly and you may figure it out.

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  • What's the idea of increasing core funding if every year the weighted list is dragged down manually by NHSE by a 100 patients increasing the gap from 200 patient less weightage uniformly between 2010-2012 and then with core funding distribution that gap increase in weightage widens to almost 600 patients between 2013-2016.
    So, when there was no increase in core funding I was not paid for 200 patients and since increase in funding , I am not paid for 600 patients .
    Unless you weed out corruption and lack of transparency and allow GPs to contact HSCIC directly to clarify issues no core funding shams are going to save general practice. It is a sham as at least in Medway GPs are scared out of their wits of NHSE who they consider omnipotent. This is a general feedback from a recent meeting of GPs in which an LMC member confessed they were afraid to push NHSE as they don't listen anyway.

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  • Is it the day for silly (self-evident) studies today?
    Must be the heatwave

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