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GP investment flatlines as LES and out-of-hours budgets raided

Dramatic cuts to local enhanced services budgets and out-of-hours funding contributed to overall investment in general practice almost flatlining last year, with GPs experiencing their slowest increase in funding for at least four years.

New statistics from the NHS Information Centre show an increase of just 0.42% across the UK last year, from £9,749m spent in 2009/10 to £9,789m in 2010/11. The increase is much less than the 4.25% rise seen the previous year, and is the smallest year-on-year rise covered in the report, which looks at investment in general practice since 2006.

The UK figures mask significant variation across the four nations, with annual investment increasing by 0.3% in England, 0.7% in Wales and 1.7% in Scotland, but falling 1.5% in Northern Ireland.

And while the amount of money spent through global sum, MPIG and the QOF increased across the board, enhanced services funding has been cut sharply as cash-strapped PCTs and health boards look to make efficiency savings.

Local enhanced services spending fell by 17.4% in England, 26.8% in Wales, 15.9% in Northern Ireland but increased by 6.5% in Scotland.

Click here to see the statistics.

The figures come after a Pulse investigation earlier this week suggested local enhanced services funding in 2011/12 has dropped a further 21%.

The NHS Information Centre analysis also found significant drops in out-of-hours funding, with a £6.6m (1.7%) fall in England and £448,000 (2.1%) drop in Northern Ireland.

However in England there was a 32.8% surge in investment in APMS and PCTMS services – likely to be a product of the nationwide rollout of Darzi centres.

Other key findings included:

  • Less GP funding is being spent through PMS, with the balance of PMS funding decreasing by 0.7% in England and 6.9% in Scotland.
  • Investment in premises went up by 9.7% in Wales, 5.6% in Scotland and 5.2% in Northern Ireland, but fell by 1.4% in England.
  • Dispensing funding fell by 5.2% in Wales and dipped by 0.1% England, but increased by 1.3% in Northern Ireland.