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GPs demand funding 'step change' for sustainable primary care

Properly resourced preventive care and general practice would benefit whole NHS, say GPs in Wales

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 02 October 2018

GP leaders in Wales have called for a “step change” in NHS funding from the Welsh government, ahead of today’s publication of its outline draft budget. They urged the Welsh government to properly resource a sustainable Welsh general practice, giving it a fair share of NHS resources.

The draft outline proposals will set out the National Assembly for Wales’ high-level strategic spending, taxation and funding plans for 2019-20, together with a supporting narrative. The plans will then be scrutinised by the finance committee, and the detailed draft budget published in three weeks’ time, on 23 October.

The Royal College of GPs in Wales is demanding that the government provides resources to back up implementation of its many previously published plans for the NHS. Joint chair of RCGP Wales Dr Peter Saul said: “Wales needs to think about the way it cares for its people in the long-term. More of the same won’t achieve the best outcomes. We have an ageing population, and more people with multiple, chronic, long-term conditions. To manage that effectively, patients need to be able to access more care in their communities, not being in a situation where issues escalate and require more serious hospital intervention.

“It isn’t a controversial statement. The Welsh NHS has published plan after plan aiming to deliver more care closer to people’s homes. However, these plans haven’t yet been backed up with the resources needed to implement them.”

He pointed out that, in fact, general practice has become less well rather than better funded, threatening the sustainability of the service itself. He said: “The share of the NHS budget invested in general practice has actually fallen over the last decade. More and more GPs are saying it’s financially unsustainable to run a practice, with inadequate funding available to them to deliver patient care.

“There will be opportunities to address this and they need to be taken. The funding announced ahead of the NHS’ 70th birthday means Wales will receive additional money, and general practice needs its fair share. The last NHS plan came with £100m fund to help implement it, and ultimately core budgets need to reflect the way Wales needs to deliver patient care.”

He argued that this would benefit the NHS as a whole. He said: “A well-resourced general practice would mean patients can access more timely appointments and the NHS delivers more preventative care, fixing problems at an early stage before they get worse. Those benefits will not be realised until we see a step change in NHS funding.”

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