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GPs will continue to suffer from the years of austerity



The good news: Boris Johnson is going to reduce GP waiting times!

The bad news: everything else. NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG’s decision to cut its discretionary funding of general practice by up to 30% is a good place to start, followed by the warning from CCGs’ representative body that it will be a struggle to channel the £1.50 per patient to primary care networks.

This is not the CCGs’ fault. They are operating in a system that has been underfunded throughout the ‘austerity years’, and the £20bn cash injection is not enough to overturn this. Of course, this is true in the case of the new funding for the GP contract too. But GPs will also suffer from the perilous financial state of CCGs.

I suspect this isn’t something that would have even entered Johnson’s thinking when there was the opportunity of a shiny new soundbite

CCGs are being told to ringfence the promised £1.50 funding per patient for primary care networks. But when the failing large hospital is on the front pages, this funding will become a lot less ringfenced.

And then there is the more insidious threat. This funding isn’t new money, so even if the CCGs are able to fulfil the Government’s promises, they will have to find it from somewhere. The likeliest place is from the discretionary funding already provided to practices – ie, local enhanced services or an acute visiting service – which will be either be transferred to networks or, even worse, lost altogether.

This is, of course, just a tiny example of how GPs and the NHS have suffered through the years of austerity. But, I suspect, this isn’t something that would have even entered Johnson’s thinking when there was the opportunity of a shiny new soundbite.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk