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New NHS £200m winter funding will not go to general practice

New NHS £200m winter funding will not go to general practice

General practice will not receive any funding from the Government’s newly announced £200m pot aimed at easing NHS winter pressures. 

Yesterday, the Prime Minister held a winter planning meeting with clinical leaders including the RCGP, and today the Government announced new investment ‘to boost NHS resilience’. 

However, RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said it is ‘disappointing’ that the winter plan does not include any ‘additional funding for primary care’.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) announcement does not specify how the £200m will be spent, but it said the funding ‘will ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, while also driving forward plans to cut waiting lists’.

According to the NHS performance statistics published today, at the end of July there were 7.7 million people waiting to start treatment, which means the number has increased by more than 100,000 since June.

Professor Hawthorne said it was ‘encouraging’ that the RCGP was invited along with secondary care colleagues to the winter planning meeting yesterday.

But she emphasised that primary care must not be ‘overlooked’ if the Government wants to ‘prevent a health crisis this winter’. 

She said: ‘As the front door to the NHS, general practice manages a huge volume of patient contacts, more so than any other part of our health service. 

‘GPs are delivering tens of millions of appointments per month, even more than before the pandemic, but now with 952 fewer fully qualified, full-time GPs than 2019. 

‘If our under-staffed GP teams are unable to cope with an influx of patients this winter, we’ll likely see unsustainable spill over into other, equally under pressure, branches of the health service – further jeopardising the effectiveness of the NHS.’

Chairman of Gateshead and South Tyneside LMC Dr Paul Evans said his ICB, North East and North Cumbria, confirmed in writing earlier this week that none of the winter pressures funding in that area would be allocated to general practice. 

He said: ‘I find it puzzling because clearly we’re running at winter pressures levels already in general practice and secondary care. 

‘We know that spending money in general practice is massively efficient in terms of preventing admissions and reducing overall spend. 

‘So I don’t really understand – it seems to be an example of being penny wise and pound foolish.’

Dr Evans added: ‘I think the winter is going to be absolutely dreadful for NHS staff in general practice and secondary care, and for patients. I suspect we’re going to see a significant number of excess deaths. I suspect we’re going to see hospital admissions going up further.’

Medical secretary for Mid Mersey LMC Dr Ivan Camphor said he is ‘concerned’ that none of the £200m is coming into general practice and that the pressures are ‘not just in winter but all throughout the year’. 

He said: ‘The whole thing is a recipe for disaster, because general practice desperately needs funding now, not in the future. 

‘The funding that’s being syphoned off to the PCNs and other places needs to come into general practice. That is where the core work of the NHS is done – in general practice – nowhere else.’

The BMA, in response to the funding announcement, said the health secretary needs to ‘re-open talks with doctors and come to the table with a credible offer’ if he wants to ease winter pressures. 

The union’s council chair Professor Philip Banfield said: ‘How can Steve Barclay claim to be shoring up the NHS for winter while at the same time refusing to engage with the doctors he needs to deliver that care? 

‘The Government would do well to remember that our NHS treats patients all year round and winter funding is only one part of a much bigger picture. It’s been 135 and 171 days since Mr Barclay met with junior doctors and consultants, respectively.’

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘I know winter brings immense challenges for the NHS which is why we are working with health leaders to make sure we are prepared earlier.

‘We are working closely with trusts to see how we can continue to use technology and new ways of working to strengthen health and social services, alongside the thousands of new hospital beds and hundreds of new ambulances we are already providing.’

The DHSC has also committed to a £40m investment in social care capacity in order to ‘strengthen admission avoidance services and boost discharge rates’.

Last month, NHS England announced plans to help speed up patients’ discharge this winter which included additional ambulance hours, extra beds and new ‘care traffic control centres’.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 14 September, 2023 12:54 pm

Well, of course not.
Because someone just revealed earlier this week that GPs had a higher than intended pay rise of 8.6 %, whereas everyone else only got 6%, so proving that GPs don;t need extra money;
And a lot of the money going to secondary care will be to relieve burdens on primary care, so GPs will have an easy time this winter – IF they believe the government!

Darren Tymens 14 September, 2023 2:45 pm

Practices should institute the BMA Safe Working Guidance. When the winter surge comes, they can then redirect excess patients into Emergency Services where all the funding will be going to deliver surge capacity.
Don’t feel bad or guilty about this, everyone. It’s an NHSE/Commissioner decision. It is simple: no extra funding = no more capacity in General Practice.
Just be prepared to explain this to patients: ‘We are sorry but all available practice capacity today has been used. The government have funded extra capacity in A&E to deliver extra appointments during the winter months, which is why we are redirecting you there. I know you have a 15 mile drive and will then have to wait in a corridor for ten hours before being seen for your , but that is their decision, not mine.’

Not on your Nelly 14 September, 2023 2:53 pm

no more than 25 patients a day. then stop and redirect. you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Cameron Wilson 14 September, 2023 2:54 pm

All they want to avoid is pictures of overcrowded A/E! The fact that patients are bedded down elsewhere, with no staff to treat/nurse them doesn’t matter a jot! Why can’t the RCGP bod not come out and state- ” That was a complete and utter waste of time, total window dressing and indeed cynical!”- too much to ask I suppose.
Anyway no matter what they do, A/E will still be overwhelmed, as per usual.
On the day when the Health Secretary jumps up and down stating the Patient’s have a right to a second opinion when they have concerns, all good and fine, but perhaps give the staff the resources to provide this Rolls Royce provision before spouting off and stoking the fires!

Keith Greenish 14 September, 2023 10:08 pm

Weasel words – projected NHS budget 23-24 = £182billion of which £200million is 0.11%
Sounds good for a lottery win, Rishi, but a mere drop in the ocean of NHS financial need

Turn out The Lights 15 September, 2023 8:37 am

More signposted to A&E like the contract says.

Paul Frisby 15 September, 2023 10:48 am

What a shame, with £200M we could have given every patient half an apple each to keep their morale up

Bonglim Bong 15 September, 2023 11:09 am

When your local health authority reports a black alert and asks primary care for help – it would be a good time to remind them that 0% of the winter support funding came to primary care so 0% of the support should come from primary care.
Then continue to refer and admit as usual.

There are some ICBs which might direct winter funding to primary care.

Sam Macphie 15 September, 2023 3:09 pm

Is this all the government can come up with after 13 years: only £200 million. Take ambulance delays at handover, for instance; a million hours of ambulance time lost in handovers of 1 hour or longer last year alone. With potential worsening consequences for 500,000 patients: people died in ambulances, more than should have. Stump up much more money to help all sectors, Steve Barclaysbank and Rashy Sanuk. Perhaps Mandy Preachhard, Chief Exec at NHSEngland, can influence outcomes here by applying pressure on government to earn her keep.

David jenkins 16 September, 2023 12:34 pm

the amount is a joke !

200m for the nhs

500m for port talbot steel works in south wales !

both very worthy causes, i’m sure, but which will affect the most people ?

James Weems 17 September, 2023 1:09 pm

They are not the party of the nhs. Pitiful support. Even if it was only for secondary care alone (which it is).