By Gareth Iacobucci
The proportion of NHS cash the Government invests in general practice has now slumped to levels lower than prior to the introduction of the nGMS contract.
New statistics buried in documents published in the parliamentary library provide a stark illustration of how successful the Department of Health has been at clawing back cash from GPs.
Investment in the GP contract as a proportion of total NHS expenditure increased from 9.1% in 2003/4, the last year before the contract, to 10.2 in 2005/6.
But the proportion of NHS money ploughed into the contract has now fallen every year since, down to just 8.4% in 2008/09 – a decline of a fifth in just three years.
Real-terms investment in the GMS contract remains higher than in 2003/4, but has fallen sharply since 2005/6, from £8,413,341 then to £7,957,431 in 2008/09.
GPs warned that the fall made a mockery of claims that the Government wanted to create a primary care led NHS.
It follows a recent Pulse investigation, as part of Dr Sam Everington’s guest editor issue, showing hospitals were draining money from the primary care budget at the same time as shifting an increasing proportion of their workload onto GPs.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator and a GP in Stanmore, said: ‘This reinforces the lamentable reality being felt by GPs on the ground and runs wholly contrary to the Government’s stated aim of moving more services into the community.’
Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said: ‘It’s worrying, and means a primary-care led NHS isn’t happening. I think that’s because PCTs are performance-managed on things like hospital waiting times.’
Dr Dixon said the figure also highlighted the value for money being provided by general practice. ‘It also shows what a drop in the ocean things like the QOF are, and shows how cost-effective general practice is.’
GP funding has slumped to levels lower than before the launch of the nGMS contract GP funding has slumped to levels lower than before the launch of the nGMS contract