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Reaction: General practice to get 4% annual funding increase

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker

General practice is the bedrock of our health service and is rightly at the heart of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, so we welcome these signs that this is now being backed up with investment.

This is good news for general practice, the NHS as a whole and most importantly our patients. It is testament to the power of our Put patients first: Back general practice campaign that has brought home the harsh reality of years of underinvestment in our services and the impact this has on patients and our profession.

GPs and our teams make 370 million patient consultations – 60 million more than five years ago – yet despite this increase in patient demand, over the same period investment in our service has consistently decreased and the number of GPs have remained relatively stagnant.

This money will help us to employ more GPs, more practice staff, and offer more and enhanced services, including longer appointments for those who need them.

But while this investment is great, it is important that it is only seen as the first step in putting general practice back on the right track. We are calling for our profession to receive 11% of the overall NHS budget over the course of this parliament and for thousands more GPs, so that we can deliver the care that our patients desperately need and deserve.

BMA Council and GPC member Dr David Wrigley

This sham announcement used to gain political brownie points merely ensures funding stands still rather than increasing in any meaningful way. It will do nothing to solve the major crisis we now face in general practice and is likely to be swallowed up by already hard pressed CCGs with limited budgets.

GPs are leaving the profession in their droves and resigning mid career whilst doctors in training are shunning a career in general practice given the horrific pressures GPs now face. Until politicians grasp this issue and deal with it by working with the profession then general practice will continue to decline and could implode quite soon.’

Beds and Herts LMCs chief executive Dr Peter Graves

The Beds and Herts LMC would, of course, welcome any investment in general practice but point out that is still doesn’t go anywhere near the proportion of the total NHS budget that was resourcing general practice 5 years ago, when over 11% of NHS funding was spent on general practice. 

We are concerned that there will be “strings attached”, for example delivery of seven-day services, resulting in not relieving the current unacceptable workload pressures and nor addressing the recruitment crisis. We would like to see this really invested in ways that underpin and support services that improve patient safety without further jeopardising the health of GPs.’

Wessex LMC chief executive Dr Nigel Watson

The devil is in the detail. To transform general practice and support the demand and workload increases we need significant investment in services to support GPs and practices.

Former Tower Hamlets LMC chair Dr Sella Shanmugadasan, a GP in east London

It is very good and headline grabbing but what does this actually mean to us, is the question. How that 4% funding boost is going to come is the question. Because they are working on a new [allocations] formula, and are they going to change it? How are they going to change it?

The funding is necessary but if, for example, in our patch in Tower Hamlets we get about £50m for primary care, if you tell me that a 4% increase means I am talking about £2m extra – that is not big money.

Where the problem is coming is if these guys are going to give us this money and ask us to do some new things, which is going to pull the money from somewhere else.

In our patch we are doing this Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund which is £3.3m, for one year.

After that one year, if they say that you have to continue after the pilot, and that will bring you another additional £2.5m to continue that. If that is the case, they will have to raid this extra money from somewhere, and I think it will be particularly from primary care. So it doesn’t actually make a difference for us in the total funding. The devil is in the detail.

Dr Mark Spencer, NHS Alliance co-chair, and a GP in Fleetwood

NHS Alliance welcomes the 4% funding boost to general practice. It is no secret that general practice is facing increasing strain and demand, and this funding will go some way to relieve part of the pressure facing practices across the country. However, general practice must not be viewed in isolation, and the news that community pharmacy is to receive a substantial cut in funding gives cause for concern.

General practice is only ever part of the solution, and if we are truly serious about improving out of hospital care, there must be increased funding for all primary care providers, including community pharmacy, to create an integrated care service.

NHS Alliance would be interested to see further details surrounding funding allocations concerning health inequalities. It is important that we prioritise development and extra resource for areas of greatest deprivation, and NHS Alliance will continue to work with disadvantaged communities in 2016, sharing best practice and celebrating good leadership from across primary care.