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Seven-day general practice will have to be funded by other NHS cuts, MPs warn

The House of Commons health committee has questioned how the Government intends to pay for seven-day routine GP services.

The committee’s inquiry into the effect of last year’s comprehensive spending review, in which then Chancellor George Osborne set out spending commitments up until 2020, found that for the NHS as a whole ‘research suggests that trying to provide a full range of services over seven days would not be a good use of scarce resources’.

In the committee’s evidence session, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said that the money to roll out seven-day general practice would come from the £2.4bn annual uplift to general practice funding announced as part of the GP Forward View package in April.

But, having been told that the £2.4bn was coming not from a new health funding injection from the Treasury but from the existing health budget, the committee concluded this would mean cutting NHS spending elsewhere.

The report concluded: ‘It will, therefore, be important to understand what other spending commitments will be re-prioritised to release the funds for this package of support.’

The health committee also warned that cuts to public health funding were ‘a false economy’ and that too much of the ‘transformation’ funding supplied to the NHS was being used to plug provider deficits, mainly in the acute sector.

Committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston said: ‘Whilst the NHS has been treated favourably compared to many other departments, the increase in health funding is less than was promised if assessed by the usual definitions.’