The modernised GP practices set to be funded via a £1 billion Treasury windfall will offer chemotherapy and dialysis to patients on site, the Government has announced.
The heavily trailed Autumn Statement, published in full today, has revealed that not only will these practices work with job centres to ‘support people back into the labour market’, but they will also provide advanced care currently only provided in hospitals.
It comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed on Monday that the practices – set to be finances with funds derived from fines slapped on misbehaving banks – will be expected to cooperate with job centres and social services, which the final statement confirmed.
The document, which is an annual pre-budget announcement based on the latest fiscal forecast for the years ahead, said: ‘[T]he fines collected from the banks that broke the foreign exchange market rules will be used to create a £1 billion fund for advanced care in GP practices in England. Bringing together GPs, nurses and specialists, the fund will pay for the modern premises and technology that will give patients access to advanced care, such as chemotherapy and dialysis, in their local communities.
‘These new primary care facilities will also be encouraged to join up closely with local job centres, social services and other community services, in order to ensure that the NHS is also supporting people back into the labour market.’
The statement clarified that English practices would receive £1bn over four years for premises improvements, with the devolved nations receiving around £200m over the four years, although the Government was unable to guarantee that the devolved government will use it to upgrade GP premises.
Instead, the statement said: ‘The additional funding for the NHS in 2015-16 generates £123 million in additional funding for the Scottish Government, £71m for Wales, and £41m for Northern Ireland. This will make an additional £237 million available for the devolved administrations in 2015-16, which they can spend next year in line with their own priorities.’
In his speech to the House of Commons, chancellor George Osborne said: ‘[I]nstead of returning the foreign exchange fines paid by the banks back to the City, [we] are using that windfall for a £1.2 billion investment in GP services across the UK.’
Meanwhile, a £200 million ‘transformation fund’ which will ‘kick-start’ work on NHS England’s five-year plan will be used to ‘improve the integration of GPs, community services and hospitals’ in England, the document said.
GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul welcomed to funding but said the ‘devil was in the detail’.
He said: ‘It is a step forward that after substantial lobbying from the BMA, the Government has finally acknowledged that GP infrastructure is in dire need of investment. Many GP practices across England are in a declining state and completely unsuitable for the modern demands of 21st century medicine. A recent BMA survey answered by more than half of all practices in England found that four out ten felt that their facilities were struggling to provide even basic care while seven out of ten believed they could not deliver additional services, even though many expressed the desire to do so.
‘This substantial investment, if delivered properly, could help begin to address this problem, but the devil will be in the detail. We need a firm strategy from the Government which commits this funding to be spent specifically on GP premises and not for it to be squandered on other projects. The GPC will work with NHS England to ensure that the investment is used to meet the needs of individual practices and their patients, and not driven by central diktats.’