General practice is set for a huge investment of £2.4 billion a year, which will see 10% of the total proportion of NHS spending going into primary care, NHS England has said today.
Announcing its ‘General Practice Forward View’ today, NHS England said it is making £500m available ‘to further help support struggling practices’, including a £56m ‘practice resilience programme’.
It claimed that the measures today would increase real-terms spending on general practice by 14% by 2020/21 – compared with 8% across the rest of the NHS.
GP leaders welcomed the package, saying it ‘will reverse the unacceptable decline in general practice funding’.
The package includes a range of measures, such as:
- Investment in specialist services for GPs suffering from burnout;
- 3,000 fully funded mental health workers to be placed in general practice;
- A range of measures to stop secondary care dumping workload on primary care;
- CQC scaling back GP inspections;
- Recruiting more than 500 overseas GPs
It rules out calls for crown indemnity, but does say it will consult on ways to reduce GP indemnity.
It has also invested £500m into the push towards seven day routine GP access.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘If anyone ten years ago had said: “Here’s what the NHS should now do – cut the share of funding for primary care and grow the number of hospital specialists three times faster than GPs”, they’d have been laughed out of court.
‘But looking back over a decade, that’s exactly what’s happened.
‘So rather than ignore these real pressures, the NHS has at last begun openly acknowledging them. Now we need to act, and this plan sets out exactly how.’
GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul welcomed the package. He said: ‘The General Practice Forward View represents a significant and comprehensive package of proposals to support general practice both in the immediate and longer term, the most that we have seen since 2004.
‘Crucially, NHS England have committed to investment which will reverse the unacceptable decline in general practice funding. This is a vital step as the proportion of resource in general practice will reach 11% of the NHS budget and beyond.’
RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker went even further, saying: ‘The publication of NHS England’s GP Forward View is perhaps the most significant piece of news for our profession since the 1960s – and a clear recognition of the value of general practice for patients and the NHS. In one fell swoop, we are being promised much of the funding and support for general practice that the College has been calling for.’
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This plan represents a significant step forward for General Practice, supporting GPs’ wellbeing and helping us to retain a healthy workforce well into the future.
‘It is entirely right that a growing proportion of the extra money the Government announced for the NHS in the Spending Review should go to primary care, so that we can reduce the pressure on GPs and ensure that patients get the most effective and personal care from the people most qualified to help them.’