Health August 9, 2018
RCGP calls for extra funding boost to support general practice

By Daniel Male - Accountable Care Journal

The GP Forward View, launched by NHS England as a ‘lifeline’ for general practice two years ago, needs a major overhaul and a substantial cash injection of an extra £2.5bn a year on top of the funding already pledged, to protect patient safety and guarantee the future of the family doctor service, says the Royal College of GPs.

In its second Annual Assessment of the GP Forward View, the College highlights areas where the five-year plan is falling short, particularly in the efforts to boost the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020. Since the GP Forward View was launched in April 2016, the GP workforce has actually fallen by over 1,000 full-time equivalent GPs, according to official figures, meaning that more than 6,000 are now needed to meet the Government’s target.

While the promised funding of £2.4bn extra a year by 2020 is on track to be delivered, the College’s report, which includes the results of a survey of 1,216 GPs, says that GPs are just not feeling the impact of this extra investment on the frontline of patient care.

The College is now calling on NHS England for an urgent overhaul of the plans.

The RCGP says that 'while existing investment commitments are welcome and the amounts promised are being delivered, general practice has become even more challenging in the past two years and that additional funding is now needed, on top of the £2.4bn a year extra that was originally pledged. '

The College calculates that by 2020/21, investment in general practice could reduce to 8.9 per cent of NHS health spend which would be lower than the year before the GP Forward View was launched.

Prime Minister, Theresa May, recently announced an extra £20bn a year in real terms for the NHS by 2023. The RCGP is now calling for £2.5bn extra per year to be ploughed into general practice services by 2020/21, bringing investment up to £14.5bn a year. This would constitute 11 per cent of the overall NHS budget, bringing funding in line with what it was in 2005.

The RCGP acknowledged a number of areas the GP Forward View had delivered improvements, including;

  • promises of a state-backed medical indemnity for GPs in England, announced by the previous Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the RCGP Annual Conference last year;
  • more GPs in training than ever before;
  • the establishment of the NHS GP health service, which is highly rated by its users;
  • the introduction of practice-based pharmacists is on track to exceed its target of 1,500 by 2020/21; and
  • a less arduous and costly process for returning to work after a career break or period working abroad.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, says: “We are not turning our back on the GP Forward View – it remains the most constructive, indeed only, solution to tackling the intense resource and workforce pressures facing general practice, and it is making good strides in some areas.

“But it needs an urgent overhaul to address the pledges that are not progressing fast enough, particularly around retaining our existing workforce and reducing our workload; and to recognise the changing landscape of NHS funding, which now includes a promise of £20bn extra a year by 2023."

She adds: “It is now time for us to go above and beyond the original GP Forward View. The vital importance of general practice must be recognised as decision-makers draw up plans as to how to spend the new money that the Prime Minister has promised for the NHS. We believe that at least £14.5bn is necessary – an extra £2.5bn a year on top of what has been promised in the GP Forward View."