I think 11% isn’t some arbitrary target in its own right. Ten years ago, 10% of the NHS budget was spent on general practice so we are not talking about something that is an unreal expectation.
Ten years ago, 10% of the NHS budget was spent on general practice and we are now seeing a significant move of care into the community. Every political party, every government across the four nations, are totally committed to expanding care in the community, so it should not seem odd to suggest that general practice should receive an increasing share of the budget.
It isn’t so much an end in itself so we mustn’t get hung up on the actual percentage – it may be more than that. But the fact is that 10% of the budget was spent on general practice ten years ago and in that ten years we have seen an absolute escalation, a massive sea change of care being provided in the community and it will continue to do so. So I don’t think it is unreasonable to exprct that level of investment.
What we are seeing is a huge level of expense in hospitals as a result of general practice infrastructure not being able to manage patients effectively in the community because we just don’t have the GPs or the facilities.
So there is a compelling argument that investment in general practice and community services working together will be the key to achieving cost efficiencies.
The figures speak for themselves when you pause and reflect that a GP is given just over £73 for seeing a patient an unlimited time, including home visiting, for a whole year.
How can that not be efficient compared to the fact that about £150 is spent for an average outpatient tariff appointment, one single contact in hospital?
I think there is a compelling argument and it is not an argument based on some target, it is an argument based upon recognising the rightful way of managing a pressured health resource.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul is chair of the GPC