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What GPs think of the Government’s £3.5bn funding announcement

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard 

‘Any investment in patient care in the community is welcome – and it’s essential that general practice, specifically, is at the heart of these plans and a key recipient of this new funding.

‘The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrates recognition at the highest levels that a strong general practice service is central to the long-term sustainability of the NHS and patient care.

‘It is an important step forward to meeting our calls for our service to receive 11% of the overall NHS England budget, and achieving some of the College’s aspirations for the future of general practice, particularly around providing a wider range of services in the community – but it certainly doesn’t go all the way.’

GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey

‘The devil will be in the detail. We have been clear that general practice needs an urgent increase in investment to address the pressures affecting the profession and patients, and while this announcement is an important step forward, we will be seeking urgent assurance that this really is new investment for general practice and we will want early discussions on the detail of where the money will be spent.

‘The government has said this funding will reach £3.5bn a year by 2023, but it is also imperative that there is no delay in it reaching the frontline as soon as possible.

‘Hard-working doctors are leaving the profession as they battle rising demand and unsafe workloads, while patients are facing longer waits to be seen, so five years may well be too long to wait if we are to see a reverse in this worrying trend.’

GPC member and Doncaster LMC medical secretary Dr Dean Eggitt

‘These schemes are extra to the care we already offer. So what I think we are being told is we are going to have to do more work with less money.

‘The scheme itself sounds great, but practically speaking, we don’t have enough doctors and nurses to staff between the hours of 8 and 6 five days a week. We already have a massive vacuum in workforce. How we are going to find those extra clinicians not only to plug the current gaps but to work in this service is beyond me.

‘Whoever has come up with this service does not understand the true scale of the workforce crisis we have.’

Leicester GP and GPC member Dr Grant Ingram

‘Do I expect any will go to core general practice? No, the £3.5bn is part of the £20bn pledge. The £20bn really was just enough to keep the lights on and keep doing the same rather than developing new services.

‘The 24-hour rapid response teams using doctors is just going to be another branch to pour GPs out of core practice. If any of it is going to be contracted within general practice, it needs to be properly funded. But the number of practices that are able to take it up is going to be low, due to most practices not having capacity to do the core work at the moment.’

Loughborough GP Dr Dermot Ryan

‘2023/24 is also four or five years down the line, one wonders whether primary care will still exist at that time, it’s too little too late. People are leaving primary care in drives, we can’t even keep overseas doctors because of visa problems, and we have an extraordinary demoralised workforce and fragmented care. 

‘Action needs to be taken now with how to reconnect primary care, buttress it and fortify it, to allow it to do the job is must do, it’s really critical. These mutterings about something in the future will not solve the problems now. If they funded general practices properly in the first place, they wouldn’t need to come up with these cock-eyed schemes.’

Derbyshire GP and LMC executive officer Dr John Ashcroft

‘My big problem is that when you start lumping this altogether with community, will this money just end up in the community trust? Why is it not going into core general practice? Is it ring fenced? If not, then why not? Because the government and the department of health don’t believe in general practice, don’t believe or trust general practice.

‘It’s all about supporting at scale, but the other side of the coin is they don’t understand what traditional general practice can do with continuity of care and all these things about access and you lose continuity of care – even in big practices you’re losing a lot of this continuity of care which is critical for the system to work better. We need more of that and not less.’