Health secretary Matt Hancock announced hundreds of millions of winter funding for the NHS and social care today but general practice will receive none of the funding, Pulse has learned.
Funding included £150m to ‘expand’ A&E departments and £540m towards Covid infection control in care homes.
At the same time, Mr Hancock announced plans to roll out ‘NHS 111 First’ to all A&Es by December, which will see call handlers booking patients in for GP appointments instead if this is more appropriate.
But NHS England told Pulse no additional funding was earmarked for this as it was not a new service, with practices already having to set aside slots for NHS 111 direct bookings.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘While extra funding for A&E departments is welcome, there is a disappointing lack of mention for primary and mental health care, which will be just as much at the forefront of the battle this winter.
‘Increasing NHS 111 capacity, while alleviating some of the pressure on emergency care, will undoubtedly divert some of the demand to primary care and other services. Yet, the Government has failed to recognise this and must provide comparable additional resources to address it, not least as practices are already overwhelmed with rapidly rising workloads.’
Dr Nagpaul also complained that the ‘NHS 111 pilot scheme has been extended without any update on the results of the initial pilot, or any consultation on the results’.
He said: ‘We would like these schemes to be a success, but without more transparency and more clinician-led input, it is questionable how successful they can be.
‘We are concerned this could be a waste of precious resources if not carefully implemented. The extension of the scheme should also be accompanied by clear messaging for the public so they know exactly how they should interact with the new system.’
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth asked the health secretary during today’s House of Commons debate: ‘If this leads to greater demands on primary care, will GPs be given extra resources as a consequence?’
However Mr Hancock did not directly address the question in his response.