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NHS England pledges cash boost for primary care over next five years

Services to get 4%-5.4% every year; CCG funds targeted at those with greatest need

Caroline White

Friday, 18 December 2015

Primary care is set to receive a cash boost over the next five years, in recognition of the increased workload, NHS England has promised.

Setting out its plans for how the NHS budget will be divvied up over the over the next five years, in line with the ambitions of the Five Year Forward View, NHS England has promised to boost the spend on GPs and primary medical care services at a higher rate than for other health services.

Services will get an extra 4%-5.4% in funding every year for the next five years in an update to the primary medical care allocation formula to account for changes in GP workload since the original 'Carr Hill' methodology was developed over a decade ago.

CCGs will be able to make further investments on top of this using the co-commissioning option, NHS England has said.

Every CCG will get real terms budget increase, with adjustments made so that extra funding for local health services is targeted at those parts of the country with the greatest health needs, where the population is growing rapidly, and where there are additional and historic pressures because of rurality.

Firm allocations will be made for the next three years and indicative allocations for the final two years. CCGs will be told in January how much they are going to get.

Mental health services will also get extra cash as CCGs will be expected to use their additional monies to increase funding for local mental health services in real terms next year by at least the level of the CCG’s overall funding growth, with extra funding allocated from the Sustainability and Transformation Fund.

"Just over a year ago the NHS came together to produce the Five Year Forward View, charting a new direction for health, care integration, and sustainable funding,” commented NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens

“Having won the argument about the inescapable need to advance on all three fronts, today we back our plan with five year funding. Our aim is to relieve frontline service pressures in the here-and-now, while kick-starting the fundamental strengthening of primary care, mental health, cancer care and other major priorities,” he explained.

NHS England wants to see stronger collaboration between commissioners and providers, a shift in the focus of healthcare planning away from bricks and mortar towards creating services around the needs of patients, it says.

NHS Alliance has welcomed the funding boost. “It is no secret that general practice is facing increasing strain and demand, and this funding will go some way to relieve part of the pressure facing practices across the country,” it said in a statement.

“However, general practice must not be viewed in isolation, and the news that community pharmacy is to receive a substantial cut in funding gives cause for concern. General practice is only ever part of the solution, and if we are truly serious about improving out of hospital care, there must be increased funding for all primary care providers, including community pharmacy, to create an integrated care service,” it warned.

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