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Money allocated to general practice will fall by 2016

RCGP predicts a £200m fall in allocations in three years

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 23 May 2013

GP leaders are warning that the money allocated to GPs to care for their patients will fall by almost £200m over the next three years.

The RCGP has today issued new predictions that warn that the £195.5million fall is the equivalent to the current funding for 1.2 million patients and will mean the £157 spent per patient in 2011-12 will fall to £144 in 2015-16.

The college said the proportion of NHS funding being spent on general practice had been falling for successive years, which made it increasingly difficult for GP practices to meet the growing needs of patients.

Its predictions are based on RCGP calculations for the time period 2011-12 to 2015-16 (calculated at 2011-2012 prices) by analysing and taking into account various reports from the Office for National Statistics, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Nuffield Trust.

Putting the figures into context, the college said only 9% of the NHS budget in England was spent on general practice in 2010-11, even though GPs saw more than a million patients per day and 90% of all NHS activity was taking place in general practice.

Its breakdown of NHS spending for 2010-11 for A&E and acute care was 47%, and a further 19% was spent on other secondary care such as maternity and mental health, with 10% spent on community care.

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada, said: “General practice is the most effective and cost-effective way of providing patient care - a whole day's care in general practice costs one tenth of a day in hospital.

“But funding and resources for our services is being stretched to the limits, with family doctors facing ballooning workloads, record hours being worked in surgery and real consequences for patient care.”

GPs wanted to be able to do more for their patients and deliver appropriate care, she said, but added: “General practice is becoming increasingly challenging and complex – with an ageing population and more patients presenting with obesity and more complex and multiple conditions - and the funding we receive to provide services must reflect this.

“GPs have seen consultation rates explode in recent years. We now routinely see up to 60 patients on a daily basis whereas even 10 years ago this would happen only in exceptional circumstances such as a flu outbreak.

“Most GPs want to help alleviate pressure on hospitals, including on A&E, with a shift in care back to the community, but this must be matched with adequate resourcing and we cannot continue to juggle an ever-increasing workload with a decreasing workforce.”

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