The Government is to create a pooled health and social care fund worth £3.8bn to help get elderly patients out of hospital, which will include £1bn of the current NHS budget, it announced today.
In his Spending Review, chancellor George Osborne announced the £3.8bn fund will be used to jointly commission services across health and social care by 2015/16 to ‘help end the scandal of older people trapped in hospital because they cannot get social care support’. The DH said the pool will include: £1bn taken from the existing NHS budget; £800m that has already been announced for social care; and £2bn of new money being invested.
However, Professor Clare Gerada, chair of the RCGP, warned the Government it must halt the continued defunding of general practice – the ‘cornerstone of the NHS’.
She said the college ‘welcomes the focus on integration between health and social care’. She added: ‘We must now reach an agreement about how the money can be shared most fairly in the best interests of patients – but general practice must not lose out. General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and it is essential that our funding is increased for the benefit of patients and for the sustainability of the NHS.’
‘GPs make 90% of NHS patient contacts but receive only 9% of the budget and RCGP figures show that if current trends continue, spending on general practice will reduce by £200m in the next three years. A recent RCGP poll has shown that 85% of GPs think the profession is in crisis, and 49% say they can no longer guarantee safe patient care. As patients are living longer with complex and multiple conditions, GPs are facing ever-increasing demands and responsibilities whilst resources are decreasing, with concerning implications for patient care.’
Professor Gerada reiterated her call for an extra 10% of funding to be put towards general practice to help create 10,000 more GPs, which it detailed in its 2022 vision for the profession last week.