NHS England will continue to invest in general practice regardless of the outcome of next month’s general election, its chief executive has said.
Simon Stevens was speaking at a King’s Fund conference on NHS leadership when he said that there was ‘no version of reality’ in which the NHS did not need ‘stronger primary care’.
He said that although NHS England would be ‘guided’ by the new Government, it had ‘no doubt’ that NHS England’s Five Year Forward View plans were ‘the right things for us to be working on’.
His comments come as NHS England hailed its work to date in its update on the programme in March, which was setting out the next steps and claimed NHS England had already overseen an 8% increase in GP funding.
And speaking yesterday, Mr Stevens said: ‘Without prejudging in any way the outcome of the election – we obviously will be guided by the new government – it is pretty clear that the core operational priorities that the NHS set out in the next steps document are the right things for us to be working on over the year ahead. There is no version of reality where we don’t need stronger primary care.’
He added that although ‘real terms spend on primary care had been going down in the years prior to the creation of NHS England’, his organisation has ‘put a kink in the downturn’.
He added: ‘[We] are committed to continuing to improve that situation, linked to the changes in the GP Forward View.’
Mr Stevens also told delegates that the current financial year would see ‘a lot of change’ happening to the NHS and general practice in particular.
He said: ‘I think 17/18 is going to be a sleeves rolled up year, a year when there’s going to be a lot of change happening across the country and – within the constraints of what I can say today – I look forward to working with you on it.’