We need more money, say GPs

The Royal College of GPs has called for increased budgets for GPs as underfunding ‘compromises patient care’.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called for more money to be spent on GPs as funding hits a record low despite demand for doctor consultations continuing to rise.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, has warned that “a chronic lack of investment in general practice is compromising patient care across the whole of the NHS” as figures suggest that GP funding comprises just 8.5% of the overall health budget. I

While the RCGP acknowledged the financial strain on the health service and the “difficult challenge” that health commissioners face in “ensuring proper investment in a range of services whilst balancing and extremely tight budget”, the shift in investment towards frontline care is seen as key to manage the current pressures on the health service.

“In the context of an ageing population with patients increasingly living with multiple long-term conditions, we believe there is a strong case for investing in the generalist skills that GPs and their team provides” said Dr Baker.

According to the RCGP’s figures, funding for GPs accounts for 8.5% of the NHS budget, a slip from 10.95% eight years ago despite the fact that 90% of patient contact is made at the GP surgery.

The College is calling for a rise to 11% by 2017 to cope with the increased demand placed on GPs – figures suggest that there will be 40 million more consultations in 2014 than in 2008 – and have warned that four-fifths of GPs are concerned that sustaining elderly care will be difficult due to budget cuts.

In response to the RCGP’s impassioned plea for CCGs to “help us reverse the decline in general practice”, the Department of Health has stressed that it recognises the ‘vital job’ of the GPs and has already made provisions to ease issue.

“GPs do a vital job, which is why we increased their overall budget last year,” said a spokesperson, drawing attention to the changes to GP contracts to “free them up…to devote more time to patients” and suggesting the changes would “go hand in hand with a £3.8bn fund to merge health and social care.”