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Former NHS Confederation chief calls for funding shift to primary care

The Government must invest more in both general practice and other community health services to drive a ‘seismic shift’ in the way patient care is delivered, a report written by the former chief executive of the representative body for NHS commissioners has recommended.

The report, led by former NHS Confederation chair Mike Farrar and backed by the RCGP, calls for community care to receive a proportionately bigger increase in funding than hospital-based care, with some of the increased funding allocated to a new ‘primary and community care transformation fund’ to support new models of patient-centred care in community settings.

It also recommends a move away from the traditional ‘cottage industry’ model of isolated GP surgeries towards collaborative models such as federations sharing back-office functions, as well as more individualised care for patients with complex conditions, and action to increase GP training numbers – including incentives to attract trainees to under-doctored areas.

The report – An inquiry into patient centred care in the 21st century – was produced by a panel led by Mr Farrar and including representatives of health care professionals, patients and industry, including the Royal College of Physicians, RCGP council, the National Association for Patient Participation, NHS England, Lloyds Pharmacy and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘I welcome the work of this independent inquiry, which provides a strong endorsement of the pivotal role general practice plays while highlighting many of the pressures that GPs, and other health professionals, are currently facing.

‘The sustained growth in the number of patients with more than one long term condition, coupled with the plummeting level of investment in community care, has left general practice, as we know it, withering on the vine.

‘GPs across the country will embrace the call to adopt new ways of working in order to ensure better patient care, but – as this report highlights – this can only be delivered with far greater levels of investment in community care, and we call on the Government to act on this as a matter of urgency.’