Pressure on General Practice as NHS England provides first wave of new funding

As with the rest of the health sector, general practice is faced with the dual challenge of increased demand whilst operating under severe financial constraints. In an effort to prevent the system overloading and building on the General Practice Forward View, NHS England has announced the first wave of investment in general practice to support struggling GP practices. Delivering new models of care, including multispecialty community provider and primary and acute care system models, will be reliant on strong general practice.

Yesterday’s announcement included the release of the first £16 million injection of cash, promised as part of a wider £40 million Practice Resilience Programme over the next few years. We are also seeing the first phase of funding from the three-year, £30 million general practice development programme, the aim of which is to give every practice in the country the opportunity to receive training and development support. In addition, GPs have been offered financial support to fully offset the rising cost of GP indemnity, and wider plans to reform indemnity arrangements.

Stevens has hailed these latest steps as “concrete action to help relieve pressure on GP practices”. The General Practice Forward View is set to deliver £2.4 billion a year for general practice services by 2020/21 and has a goal of adding another 5,000 GPs in the next five years.

The move has been welcomed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), whose Chair, Dr Maureen Baker, described it as the start of delivery on “firm commitments of real money to help those practices most in need, and investment to address universal issues affecting GPs, such as soaring indemnity costs.” However, she warned that “there is a long way to go in order to get GPs and their teams the support and resources needed to deliver 90% of all NHS patient contacts in a safe and sustainable way.” Moreover, many stakeholders remain sceptical about the effectiveness of the interim plans to offset indemnity costs, which continues to deter GPs from Out Of Hours shifts.

These steps, whilst providing much-needed support, may not be enough to combat what the House of Commons Health Select Committee recently described as “unprecedented strain” on GPs, who are “struggling to keep pace with rising demand.” According to think-tank the Nuffield Trust, from 2010/11 to 2013/14, GP consultations in total rose around 11%. There is widespread recognition of the need to shift activity out of hospital into the community, but without radical change, this will exacerbate the challenges in primary care. The King’s Fund states that, relative to other health services such as the acute hospital sector, general practice’s share of NHS funding has been declining: total investment in general practice fell by 6%, nearly £560 million, between 2005/06 and 2013/14. Growing demand, and insufficient supply, is also having a detrimental effect upon the workforce. Large questions marks remain over the target for 5,000 more GPs, and with immediate shortages and lags in training time, it is no surprise that the Health Foundation found that 59% of GPs describe their job as extremely stressful.

This is set against a bleak backdrop for health policy in England. All NHS policy is set in the context of achieving the targeted £22 billion savings by 2020/21, as agreed in the November Spending Review settlement. General practice, like the rest of the health service, will have to bear its share of cost constraints if the NHS is to balance its books.

Major challenges still remain in the primary care sector, but this latest news will be a welcome boost to embattled GPs. The direction of travel of NHS transformation offers a big opportunity for primary care, but there is unquestionably a need for sufficient resourcing long term. The proof will be in the pudding though, and health sector stakeholders will watch with interest to see the effect of these latest measures.

See more articles by GK Strategy

sort news by category

Insight, Strategy, Impact,

awards, B2G, Bills, bolt on, Boris, Boris Johnson, Brexit, business, careers, climate change, clinical trials, commissioning, Communications, Consumer, consumer demands, covid, COVID 19, Crisis comms, culture, d, David Laws, Deregulation, Devolution, Digital, Disruption, diversity, Due Diligence, economic policy, Education, Energy, Energy and Environment, engagement, Environment, Equality, ESG, EU, europe, exit plan, Financial Services, general election, General News, gig economy, GK culture, gk report, Government, government affairs, Health, health and social care, health funding, Healthcare, housing, HS2, i have a voice, infrastructure, insight, internship, Investment, Investor, Investor Backed Businesses, Investor Services, investors, Ioan, Jack Sansum, Jeremy Corbyn, labour conference, Labour market, Legislation, life sciences, local government, lockdown, medical devices, Medicines, membership bodies, mental health, mental health services, nationalisation, NHS, No deal, parliament, pharma, pharmaceuticals, Planning, policy, Political Due Diligence, Politics, Pride Month, Prime Minister, Private Equity, Privatisation, Public Affairs, Public Relations, Public spending, Queen's Speech, rail, REF, regulation, sales, Select Committee, select committees, Social Care, Spending Review, Strategic Communications, students, sustainability, Tax, Technology, The Conservative Party, The Labour Party, trade bodies, transformation, Transport, uk, UK Politics, university, Waste, Winter Plan, women, Workplace,