Responding to the release of NHS Digital’s Investment in General Practice figures1, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee England chair, said:
“While it is positive to see an increase in investment, it is still not enough to ensure the sustainability of general practice and its capacity to meet the growing needs of patients.
“NHS England should also be clear that today’s headline figure is not reflective of the money reaching practices and their patients – as it also includes drug reimbursement and other initiatives including services in A&E departments. Potentially misleading the public in such a way is not acceptable.
“Today’s real investment figure of £10.2bn (an increase of 4.4 per cent since last year) represents 8.1 per cent of the NHS budget going to general practice – falling £3.6bn short of the BMA’s target of 11 per cent.
“This is money that could be spent supporting practices and improving patient care at a time when surgeries are buckling under the pressure of increased demand, unmanageable workloads, and the rising costs of premises and indemnity costs.
“A general practice supported by 11 per cent of the NHS budget could offer greater continuity of care to patients, and would be able to help deliver a more sustainable future for the NHS as a whole.
“Despite ongoing pressures, GPs across the country are going to great lengths to provide high quality, person-centred care to patients in their area, many of whom will have a series of complex conditions. Practices offer virtually unlimited access to this expert service to patients – with inadequate funding in return. While this represents great value for the government, it is clearly not sustainable – or safe for patients – as demand for services increases.
“The Prime Minister has outlined her ambitions for a long-term funding plan for the NHS. It is imperative that this includes a significant boost to general practice that meets the needs of doctors and their patients.
“As the first point of contact many will have with the NHS, GPs continue to be highly valued by the public. Recent research has shown that the vast majority of people are happy with the service they receive at their practice, but this is clearly at risk as the wait to see a doctor grows unacceptably long.
“GPs share their patients frustrations, as is clear by the increasing number of older doctors choosing to retire early and trainees opting for other specialties. Without further investment and a concerted effort to tackle this recruitment and retention crisis, it will be patients, as well as GPs who will continue to bear the brunt.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
1. For the full figures, please see NHS Digital’s website.