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Reaction: Chancellor’s £1bn funding pledge for GP services

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC chair

It is encouraging that politicians are beginning to listen to the concerns that the BMA’s General practitioners committee has been voicing through the Your GP Cares campaign about the incredible pressures on general practice.

We have continually highlighted that GPs simply don’t have the space to care- with inadequate impoverished GP premises which have received no national investment for over a decade, leaving many GPs working in premises designed for a past era, unable to meet current patent needs, and with no capacity to accommodate the government’s ambition of moving further care out of hospitals

The chancellor’s announcement could, if delivered properly and in co-operation with GPs, begin to tackle the problems facing GP premises. This is something that GPC have pushed hard for and is built on the guarantee we secured during our recent contract negotiations where the government committed to developing a specific strategy for GP premises.

We further built on this approach by holding a special summit on GP premises in the summer attended by government ministers and an event in the House of Commons that many parliamentarians attended. This investment is vital as a recent large scaled  BMA survey found that four out of ten GPs felt their premises were not able to provide even basic GP services, while seven out of ten felt they would not be able to deliver additional services, despite many desperately wanting to do so for their patients.

We will now seek to work with NHS England to ensure this funding is spent appropriately and to begin to enable GPs and their staff to work in fit for purpose facilities, while we continue to point out other pressing issues, including unsustainable workload and the growing workforce crisis in general practice.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive

Last month the NHS itself came together to chart a new direction for health in this country. Our NHS Forward View unleashed an amazingly wide consensus – amongst patient groups, local communities, frontline staff and NHS leaders. People now get the fact that a growing and aging population means we’re going to have to supercharge our work on prevention, on care integration, and on treatment innovation.”

But we also told it as it is:  services are under pressure. We know times are tight, but the economy is now growing. Sustaining a high quality health service in the years ahead will therefore require both challenging new efficiencies and genuine new investment.

That’s the case I’ve been making on behalf of the NHS to government, and today they’ve listened and responded with the funding we need for next year to sustain frontline NHS services and kick-start transformation. Of course there will still be pressures and difficult choices, but the government has played its part and the NHS will step up and play our part too. Today represents an extremely welcome vote-of-confidence in the NHS’ own five year plan.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair

The Chancellor’s announcement today is excellent news for GPs, the NHS and most importantly our patients – who we know want to be cared for close to their homes, out of hospitals.

We are delighted that the chancellor and the health secretary have been listening to our concerns and the calls of our ‘Put patients first: Back general practice campaign’. This injection of funding can transform the care GPs and our teams deliver to our patients.

General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS. GPs and their teams conduct 90% of all NHS patient contacts for just 8.3% of the overall budget. New research by Deloitte has shown that for every £1 spent on general practice services, it will save the NHS nearly £5 in the long-term – it has also shown that properly resourcing general practice could prevent 1.7m patients from going to A&E unnecessarily every year.

We look forward to more details about the plans in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement and hope that this is the start of sustained investment in general practice and frontline patient care.

We look forward to working with the government and NHS England to ensure that we have 8000 more GPs in England by 2020 and that general practice receives 11% of the overall NHS budget by 2017.

By strengthening general practice, we can deliver the care that our patients need and deserve and build a stronger NHS for the future.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair

There is little doubt that the NHS is under unprecedented pressure from a combination of rising patient demand and contracting budgets. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are working hard to deliver first rate patient care to the public, but they are being undermined by a lack of resources and staff.

The chancellor’s announcement that more funding will be allocated to the NHS is an encouraging step forward as it does appear that politicians of all parties are starting to get the message about the dire state of the NHS finances. We are particularly pleased that policymakers have listened to the BMA and confirmed that £250 million will be allocated annually for the next four years to invest in GP premises and out of hospital infrastructure. 

Many GP facilities have been starved of investment for decades with the result that a number of GP practices are too small and inadequate to cope with the number of patients coming through the surgery door.

Despite this announcement, the NHS continues to face a number of challenges, with staff shortages, especially in emergency care, remaining a cause of concern.  We need this announcement to be the start of a long term programme of investment in the NHS that is backed by all policymakers so that patients continue to get the care they deserve and need.