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Funding must reflect demand not just deprivation

General practice needs proper overall funding, rather than readjustment of Carr-Hill

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

GPs are demanding that general practice overall needs proper funding to cope with the pressures it faces, not simply a readjustment of the Carr-Hill formula. Many have responded with fury to a report yesterday in Pulse that some London practices are campaigning for a greater share of funding for those that care for deprived populations.

Pulse reported that NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has consulted with representatives from Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, in London, as part of its work looking at revision of the formula for allocating practice funding, due to be announced by autumn so that any changes can be included in next year’s contract. The CCG said funding levels should take more account of practices’ deprivation levels.

But GPs have pointed out that practices all over the country, not just those in deprived populations in London, are facing unprecedented demand, whether it results from ‘worried well’ and parents consulting over minor self-limiting illness in their children, escalating requests for home visits to the elderly, or caring for rising numbers of people in residential care. They complained that even in ‘really nice’ areas, in socioeconomic terms, their patients were unable to book appointments because of a lack of staff to deal with high demand; and of practices in areas with high levels of crime and depression being underfunded because they were not classified as ‘deprived’.

However, others have called for GPs to stop arguing among themselves over what should be the fairest distribution of inadequate funding, and instead campaign together against the underfunding of general practice as a whole.

GP partner Dr Claire Littlejohn commented on Pulse: “GPs must stop scrabbling for the tiny pot, as must secondary care. We should stand united, presenting the truth to the government.

“Why did they institute two opposing funding mechanisms in the first place? Probably to make us so busy arguing we cannot present a unified argument.”

She said: “A single payment system for primary care and secondary care is the only way forward.”

Dr Naureen Bhatti, a GP Trainer at The Limehouse Practice in Tower Hamlets, responded: “It is disappointing to see the scrabbling and in-fighting for resources. We need to stand together and acknowledge primary care is underfunded. Practices like mine that are likely to close in the next 6 months due to lack of funds to manage our demand just want an even playing field with equitable services for our patients and a fair wage for a fair day's work that allows us to retain happy and health [sic] GPs.”

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