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  • RCGP calls for an end to the ‘vicious cycle’ of unfair funding for GP training

    RCGP calls for an end to the ‘vicious cycle’ of unfair funding for GP training

    Tuesday, 10 July 2018 09:39
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  • Scotland update Golden Hello arrangements for GPs

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    Friday, 29 June 2018 15:11
  • Extra £20m funding will go hand-in-hand with a new 10-year plan for the NHS

    Extra £20m funding will go hand-in-hand with a new 10-year plan for the NHS

    Monday, 18 June 2018 17:31

a pound imageSeptember 27 2017

Spending on general practice across the UK rose to £11,852.6 million in 2016-17, an annual 5.07% increase in cash terms or 3.02% in real terms.

 Data released by NHS Digital shows the total spend on general practice including the reimbursement of drugs dispensed in general practices was:

  • £10,203.9 million in England, compared to £9,696.6 million in 2015-16, an increase of 5.23%;
  • £511.3 million in Wales, compared to £ 488.3 million in 2015-16, an increase of 4.70%;
  • £275.6 million in Northern Ireland, compared to £ 266.8 million in 2015-16, an increase of 3.31%;
  • £861.9 million in Scotland, compared to £828.6 million in 2015-16, an increase of 4.01%.

When the reimbursement of drugs dispensed in general practices is excluded from the figures, the spending on general practice was:

  • £9,579.3 million in England, compared to £ 9,050.1 million in 2015-16, an increase of 5.85%, or 3.78% in real terms;
  • £473.5 million in Wales, compared to £ 450.3 million in 2015-16, an increase of 5.16%, or 3.10% in real terms;
  • £271.5 million in Northern Ireland, compared to £ 262.8 million in 2015-16, an increase of 3.32%, or 1.30% in real terms;
  • £835.2 million in Scotland, compared to £796.6 in 2015-16, an increase of 4.84%, or 2.79% in real terms;
  • £11,159.5 million in the UK as a whole, compared to £10,559.8 in 2015-16, an increase of 5.68%, or 3.61% in real terms.

The British Medical Association’s analysis of the figures has prompted it to say that “the government is falling short of its promised pledge to invest more in GP services.”

Despite some increases in funding allocated to GP practices in England, the BMA has a number of concerns:

  • The health service spend on GP services as a proportion of the NHS budget is still below the level it was at a decade ago, with 7.9% of overall NHS investment going to general practice in 2016-17 compared to 9.6% in 2005-06; general practice is receiving £2 billion less than it would have been had spending been maintained at 2005-06 levels.
  • The government is not meeting the widely accepted target of 11% of the overall NHS budget being allocated to general practice. It is currently £3.7 billion short of meeting this commitment.
  • The rate of the increase in spending on general practice slowed last year, falling from 5% in 2015-16 to 3% in 2016-17 despite government promises of an acceleration in funding during this period.

Beccy Baird, Fellow in Health Policy at The King’s Fund, said: “General practice has been under huge pressure over a number of years, so we should welcome NHS England recognising this by increasing its investment in GP services, and doing so more quickly than the increase in the overall Department of Health Budget.

“But it is still unclear how much of this increased investment is actually reaching frontline services, and whether it is sufficient to meet the rising demands placed on GPs. The lack of good-quality data means we do not have a clear idea of how much extra is needed, in terms of both funding and number of GPs, and NHS England needs to continue its work to address this.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “In this climate, many GP practices in England are struggling to cope with rising patient demand that is far outstripping current resources, especially as the profession is facing widespread staff shortages.

“Recent BMA surveys have shown that a third of practices have vacancies unfilled for over a year and nine out of ten GPs report their workload as unmanageable. More than half of GP practices feel they are under so much strain they are considering applying to have their practice list closed by NHS England. This is a shocking state of affairs that cannot be allowed to go on.”

Links:
NHS Digital announcement         
NHS Digital Investment in General Practice, 2012/13 to 2016/17, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland                 
King’s Fund comment    
BMA analysis      

 

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