General practice will be on a shaky financial footing for years, according to new analysis revealing a big funding gap – even after the Government’s promised £2.4bn a year funding boost by 2020/21 is taken into account.
Doctors said last year that an 11 per cent share of the NHS budget was needed for general practice to keep it afloat and sustainable, equivalent to £13.6bn this year.
But GPs received under three-quarters of that sum, according to BMA analysis for its report, Funding General Practice in England.
BMA projected the shortfall for 2017-18 to be close to £4bn and will only marginally shrink to a predicted £3.4bn in April 2021, the end point for the Government’s GP FYFV (Five Year Forward View) investment plan.
BMA GPs committee chair Richard Vautrey said the new analysis ‘clearly demonstrates the significant funding gap that exists between the Government’s aim and the reality for practices across England.’
The report flags growing evidence of the continued crisis in general practice amid escalating demand.
Record numbers of practices closed in England last year with more than one surgery closing each week. More than eight out of 10 GPs in England described their workload as ‘unmanageable’.
Record waiting times
The proportion of patients waiting more than two weeks for an appointment has also broken records, rising to 20 per cent this year from 12 per cent five years ago.
The ‘significant’ financial shortfalls identified in the report might also be an underestimate, as extra funding pledged in the FYFV is not always making it to the practice door, the report adds.
‘The BMA welcomes the funding and support commitments announced in the GPFV,’ the report states.
‘However, this analysis shows that even with these commitments not enough funding is being invested in general practice to ensure its sustainability.’
Dr Vautrey said: ‘This is the direct result of a decade of under-investment in general practice and which has led to the crisis that is all too apparent now. It’s led to young doctors choosing other careers rather than becoming a GP and existing GPs quitting because of the unsustainable and unsafe workload pressures they’ve had to contend with.
‘It has left practices without the recurrent funding to employ other staff and expand their workforce to meet growing needs of their population.
‘It’s also leading to increasing numbers of practices applying to close their lists as they simply cannot deliver a safe service to a growing population with the limited resources provided to them.’
Find out more about the report
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