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moneyDecember 3 2014

Representative bodies for doctors have welcomed the news of a cash injection for the NHS announced ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that the “funding includes £1.7 billion to support and modernise the delivery of frontline care, and £1 billion of funding over 4 years for investment in new primary care infrastructure.”

The BMA GPs committee chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “It is encouraging that politicians are beginning to listen to the concerns that the BMA’s GP 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 for their patients. Many GP premises have received no national investment for over a decade, leaving many GPs working in buildings 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 the BMA has 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 added to this achievement by holding a special summit on GP premises in the summer attended by government ministers and an event in the House of Commons with many Parliamentarians.

“This investment is vital as a recent large scale 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 the government to ensure this funding is spent appropriately and to begin to enable GPs and their staff to work in fit for purpose facilities. We will continue to point out other pressing issues, including unsustainable workload and the growing workforce crisis in general practice.”

The RCGP has also issued a statement saying that increased government spending on general practice could lead to a saving of up to £1.9bn to the NHS across the UK by 2020. “Increasing spending on general practice across the UK by £72m each year – to pay for such things as more GPs and practice nurses – could lead to a saving of up to £375m each financial year, rising to annual savings of up to £708m by the end of 2019/20.”

The RCGP has based its calculations on research by Deloitte, and has broken down the potential annual saving as follows:

•    £133.9m per year, through diverting up to 1.7m patients away from A&E
•    £143.3m per year, through reducing the number of unnecessary ambulance call-outs, and
•    £170.1m per year, through reducing the length of hospital stays for patients aged over 65, by providing greater primary care support at home.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “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.

“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.”

The RCGP estimates that the number of GP patient consultations in the UK will rise to an historic high of 441 million by 2017-18, up from 388 million in 2013-14 and 327 million in 2008-09.

Links:

DoH announcement

BMA response

RCGP response

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