Boost to NHS funding must better support GPs

Following the prime minister’s announcement of the increase in NHS funding, the RCGP has stated that GPs – as a pillar of healthcare – must receive a better share of the money

The NHS is set to receive an annual funding increase of 3.4% – or around £384m in additional cash per week in real terms – over the next five years, as announced this week by Theresa May.

The funding boost has been announced ahead of the NHS’s 70th birthday on 5 July and the declaration followed intense talks between Theresa May, chancellor Philip Hammond, the health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens. Hunt and Stevens urged for extra NHS funding to ease enormous and ever-increasing pressure on the service.

May also confirmed, as part of a speech at the Royal Free Hospital on 18 June, that the government and NHS England would create and publish a 10-year plan later this year.

While the move is, of course, welcomed by the entire healthcare service, the Royal College of General Practitioners has pointed out that GPs must receive a substantial share of the funding.

Chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said:

“The Prime Minister’s announcement recognises the exceptional work that our national health service has done over the last 70 years, in the best interests of our patients, and is welcome confirmation that the Government is committed to continuing this.

“Her pledge represents a significant amount of money and this is certainly encouraging. It is essential that as more details of her long term plan are announced, general practice is recognised for the vital role it plays in delivering safe, effective patient care in the community, and keeping the entire NHS sustainable.

“The 3.4% real terms increase in investment is to be welcomed. However, it still falls short of the 4% that the Institute of Fiscal Studies recently claimed is necessary for a health service fit for the future, and which the RCGP, and other members of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, representing doctors right across medicine, has supported – so it is vital that any new investment is used wisely, and in the long-term benefits of patients and the entire NHS.

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“General practice provides the sustainable pillars for the NHS – but whilst our workload is escalating in both volume and complexity, the share of the budget we receive is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce is actually declining.

“As a result, GPs and our teams are working under conditions that are simply not safe for ourselves, our teams, or our patients. This is unsustainable and we call on the Prime Minister to specifically address this in the detail of her plans.

“The NHS is a source of national pride, and the envy of the world. It turns 70 this year and its achievements in delivering patient care to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay, have been astounding. The RCGP believes that the NHS can survive another 70 years, and beyond, but that will depend on a robust general practice service – the Prime Minister has the power to ensure this, and we urge her, in the strongest possible terms, to use it.”

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