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Doctors’ leaders criticise Budget for failing to increase investment

The RCGP has criticised the chancellor for a ‘catastrophic’ decision in failing to announce an increase in the proportion of the health budget allocated to general practice in today’s Budget.

RCGP chair Maureen Baker said the lack of extra money could be was a ‘missed opportunity’ that would be highly damaging for patient care, because around 90% of patient contacts are in general practice, while the BMA said the Budget did ‘nothing to address the crippling funding shortfall in the NHS’.

General practice currently receives 8.39% of the health budget – an all-time low – but George Osborne did not given any indication that this will rise as part of today’s Budget.

Dr Baker said: ‘With greater investment in general practice we could provide more appointments, a wider range of services and improved continuity of care, as well as providing even greater value for money to the NHS.’

‘If the Government is serious about alleviating pressures on hospitals and providing more care in the community it must act now and urgently put plans in place to increase investment in general practice to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017. Unfortunately, it is our patients who will bear the brunt of another year without additional funding, and the consequences could be catastrophic for patient safety.’

BMA Council chair Dr Mark Porter said: ‘Despite claiming the economy is on the up, today’s Budget does nothing to address the crippling funding shortfall in the NHS. The announcement by the chancellor to continue with pay restraint and more public sector cuts, if re-elected in the next parliament, will only compound this.’

The BMA said that Mr Osborne’s plan to cut 1p in duty on a pint of beer shows he has ‘abandoned any serious efforts to tackle alcohol-related harm.’

Mr Osborne confirmed in the Budget that the Government will introduce higher employer contribution rates for the NHS Pension Scheme from April next year, as reported by Pulse last week.