The shadow health secretary has ‘made it very clear’ to hospitals that any funding that becomes ‘available’ under a Labour Government would go to primary care and other non-acute sectors.
Speaking at a Labour Party conference event, attended by Pulse, Wes Streeting said directing resources to primary care along with mental health services, community care and social care creates ‘better outcomes for patients’ and value for money.
Earlier this year, the shadow health secretary indicated that the Labour Party would give general practice a larger percentage of NHS funding ‘over time’.
During a panel with BMA council chair Dr Philip Banfield and Royal College of Nursing vice chair Paul Vaughan, Mr Streeting said: ‘We’ve committed to increase the proportion of funding in mental health.
‘In fact I’ve already made it very clear to the acutes that as additional resources become available, the first port of call on those resources will be mental health, primary care, community care, social care – because that’s how we get better outcomes for patients and better outcomes for taxpayers’ money.’
On the NHS workforce, he acknowledged that recruiting more healthcare professionals ‘is only part of the challenge’ and that ‘retention is a big problem’.
Mr Streeting suggested that improving technology would help to ‘meet the overwhelming workload challenge’ faced by healthcare professionals across the NHS.
According to Mr Banfield, general practice is the ‘most efficient and effective part of our health service’, and GPs are facing increased costs ‘without that being funded’.
The BMA council chair said: ‘I have no problem understanding that I could not be a GP. I could not work with the insane number of decisions that they have to make, and the way that they manage risk is just amazing.’
He also criticised the ‘rhetoric’ around the medical workforce, and said ‘there seems to be an attempt to assassinate the character of GPs at the moment’.
The Labour Party has not yet made any announcements specific to primary care during its conference, but in August, Mr Streeting said he wants to give GP practices financial incentives to let patients see the same doctor every time, in a bit to boost continuity of care.
And party leader Sir Keir Starmer said earlier this year that the GP partnership model is ‘coming to an end of its life’ and that the NHS needs ‘more salaried GPs’.