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GP Forward View has had ‘patchy’ first year

BMA has grave workforce concerns and demands urgent delivery of promised funding

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Although the first year of the GP Forward View (GPFV) has had some successes, delivery has been “patchy”, according to the BMA. It said many practices are already at breaking point, and at the same time it has grave concerns over progress towards 2020/21 workforce targets – and it called for urgent delivery of the extra funding promised in the GPFV.

Following strong lobbying and calls for action from the BMA’s GP Committee (GPC), NHS England (NHSE) published the GPFV on 21 April 2016, setting out a programme of support for general practice over the following five years. The BMA has now published its own evaluation of the progress so far, over the first 12 months of delivery.

The GPFV committed to increase GP training recruitment to 3,250 a year to support overall net growth of 5,000 extra doctors by 2020 (compared with 2014). The report’s authors found that although the latest figures for GP training suggest an increase, the quarter between September and December 2016 saw a decrease in total GPs of 390 (headcount) and 445 (FTE). They said: “GPC has grave concerns that progress is not sufficient enough for 2020/21 workforce targets to be achieved.”

The BMA assessed progress on investment in general practice. It said that through the annual contract negotiations, an additional £220 million was invested into the general practice funding pot for 2016/17 – and in addition, about £102 million was used by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to cover population growth and for local investment. It said that, if fully used, this total of at least £322 million would provide an immediate increase in funding of 4.4%, representing almost 13.5% of the £2.4 billion recurrent funding increase expected by 2020/21.

The GPFV also pledged £10 million in 2016/17 to provide external support to struggling practices of greatest concern, through the vulnerable practices programme. The BMA reported that by the end of March 2017, NHSE reported spending £10.1 million on 714 practices; and 22 out of 28 LMCs had reported that practices received support during 2016/17. It said the impact and benefits should be seen over the coming months.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “The BMA’s GP committee believes that it is vital NHS England is held to account to deliver its promises and funding commitments, and do so in a way that translates into real support for GP practices.”

He warned: “Our analysis of the first year of the GP Forward View highlights that whilst there has been some delivery, there have been cases where promised funding has been severely delayed or distributed unevenly across the country. This confusing and inadequate implementation is unacceptable given the huge pressures on general practice from a combination of factors, including rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages.

“Many GP practices are at breaking point and they need certainty that they will get the resources necessary to deliver safe, effective care to their patients.

“We will continue to work with grassroots GPs to provide LMCs and practices with resources to hold NHS managers to account, which has included launching new guidance recently on how to ensure work is not unnecessarily transferred from secondary care.

“Most importantly, we expect politicians of all parties to put forward positive, well-resourced proposals that will not duck the crisis facing the NHS and general practice in the upcoming general election campaign.”

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