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Give NHS more cash, GP leader urges government

And don’t slacken up on primary care: crisis is far from over, says Richard Vautrey

Caroline White

Friday, 10 November 2017

The leader of England’s GPs has called on politicians from all parties to pump more money into the NHS, and continue to build on the steps already taken to tackle the crisis in general practice.

Speaking at today’s conference of Local Medical Committees in London, Dr Richard Vautrey, who chairs the BMA’s GP committee, said that this would ensure that patients would have access to the high quality and timely healthcare they need.

Highlighting some of the advances made in the past year to address some of the issues facing general practice, Dr Vautrey said: “We’ve scrapped the worst elements of Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), we ended a whole series of micromanaging and bureaucratic [measures] … we’ve secured maternity pay and guaranteed sickness pay for GPs, we’ve secured funding to cover in-year indemnity rises and we’ve even got full reimbursement of Care Quality Commission (CQC) fees.

“And crucially, on top of all that, we’ve started to turn the tide on a decade of funding cuts and secured over £500 million recurrent investment into general practice in the last two years, investment that is vital for practices right across the country.”

But he added: “But I know it is nowhere near enough. Eleven years ago, in 2006, discounting the inclusion of dispensed drugs, the NHS spent 9.6% of its budget on general practice. By 2013 it had fallen to a miserly 7.4%. 

“We should not be left trying desperately to deliver a complex and specialised service with so little. We are… highly trained generalists who are specialists in delivering holistic care that makes a difference to all aspects of our patients’ lives and we need the resources necessary to do that.”

He continued: “We are professionals delivering the most popular public service not just by coincidence, but because of our hard work and dedication, our willingness to innovate, our ability to respond rapidly to change and because we know our patients and we are willing to stand up and fight for their healthcare.”

Speaking about the future of the NHS, Dr Vautrey, said: “To meet the growing needs of our patients and to deal with the dangerous workload pressures facing GPs and our staff, we need recurrent funding to enable an expansion of the workforce.

"To his credit, the Secretary of State remains committed to securing an additional 5,000 GPs, despite the massive challenges of achieving that goal.”

But he added that the overall budget for the NHS is “simply too small,” and insisted that politicians can and should take the decision to invest more in it, and not just in general practice, but in community, mental health, hospital, and social care services too, “all of which are under huge and growing pressures,” he said.

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