General practice faces a £1.59bn real terms funding cut by 2017 despite predicted patient consultations due to increase by 69 million if current trends continue, new research published by the RCGP shows.
The study, conducted by Deloitte, predicts that UK general practice funding is set to reach a record low of 7.29% of the NHS budget by 2017/18, from 8.39% in 2012/13.
It also predicts that the patient pressure will also continue as the population ages and work shifts from hospitals to primary care with an estimated 409m consultations expected in 2017/18, from 340 million in 2012/13.
The report will be officially unveiled at a House of Commons event on Thursday, and follows the launch of the RCGPs ‘Put patients first: Back general practice’ campaign – run in conjunction with the National Association of Patient Participation (NAPP).
The campaign is asking for 11% of NHS funding to be put into general practice, and the new report estimates that to just ‘stand still’ general practice would need at least £11.47bn – 9.81% of the projected 2017/18 budget.
General practice handles 90% of the NHS’s contacts but has been handed funding cuts for the best part of a decade.
Chair of the RCGP, Dr Maureen Baker, said that waiting lists were growing because investment had already been ‘cut to the bone’.
She said: ‘These projections show just how grim the future looks for the care of our patients in general practice, across the UK.’
‘The current approach to the way we fund general practice makes no economic sense at all – as investment is being cut at the very point that demand is soaring.
‘Investment in general practice has already been cut to the bone, and these projections show that by the middle of the next Parliament general practice will be teetering on the brink.’
Patricia Wilkie, president and chair of the National Association of Patient Participation, said patient care was being compromised by waiting times and better continuity of care was needed.
She said: ‘We believe that there needs to be increased investment in patients and GP care in order to improve and sustain the high standards of quality in patient care that patients need and GPs want to give.’