Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will fail to deliver this year on his promise to increase the proportion of funding going into general practice, despite the 3.2% funding uplift, a Pulse analysis has found.
NHS England budget allocations have revealed that in 2016/17, general practice will receive only 7.23% of the NHS budget – down from 7.31% in 2015/16.
This is despite the health secretary promising to increase the proportion of funding received by general practice and both the GPC and RCGP pushing for the proportion of spending on primary care to increase to at least 11%.
But the health secretary’s promise is likely to be fulfilled by 2020/21, as funding rises will lead to the general practice share increasing to 7.72%.
In a statement on the increase in funding for general practice in December, NHS England said: ‘Spending on GPs and primary medical care services will grow in real terms at a higher rate than for other health services, with an extra 4% to 5.4% cash funding every year for five years.’
Mr Hunt reiterated that claim earlier this year, when announcing that a new support package for general practice was being developed. He said: ‘I want to increase the proportion of funding going into general practice, so with NHS England we are now promising to invest 4% to 5% more per year in general practice for the rest of this Parliament, on top of the extra funding CCGs will put into primary care.’
NHS England increased the annual funding for general practice by £310m from April, a 4.22% rise. However, NHS funding as a whole increased by much more – 5.4%, with much of the new funding going to a £1.8bn sustainability fund for struggling hospitals, while ‘specialised care’ received a 7% increase.
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘Despite the commitment to a 4% increase, the reality appears to be that NHS England’s pledge to invest in general practice does not take us any further forward and could even be taking us backwards.’
An NHS England spokesperson said that there was £75m of additional funding for other projects in primary care not included in these figures.