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November 2018

Budget boost for NHS funding fails to address pressures in general practice

The NHS is set to receive additional funding of more than £20bn over the next 5 years with £2bn immediately ear-marked to improve mental health services.

However, there is no evidence that the increases announced in the Autumn budget will be used to tackle the pressures in general practice.

BMA leaders have called for general practice funding to be increased to 11% of the total NHS budget in order to provide ‘a fully sustainable service’.

In a letter to Chancellor Phillip Hammond, BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul wrote: ‘General practice remains pivotal in being the first point of contact looking after most patients’ healthcare needs, yet it has faced a decade of underinvestment.

A significant boost to general practice funding is required to make the NHS more sustainable in the longer-term.

‘A minimum spend of 11% of the total NHS budget must be invested in general practice. The funding in the long-term plan will be insufficient to address this immediate problem.’

The BMA estimates the funding deficit for general practice to be £3.7bn.

NHS trusts will be given £335m to deal with urgent winter pressures but RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said it was ‘very disappointing’ that the Chancellor had not taken steps to alleviate pressures in general practice, which would ‘only intensify as winter approaches’.

Responding to a new analysis from the BMA, Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ‘This analysis showing that the NHS is facing unprecedented year-round pressures will come as no surprise to hardworking GPs across the country.

‘GPs and our teams make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts – more than 1million patients across the country, every day. Our service is the lifeblood of the NHS and without it, other sectors would crumble under patient demand.

‘Our emergency care colleagues are operating under enormous strains, but it is important to remember that GPs are also on the frontline of patient care and our profession - and our patients - are facing the impact of these pressures on a daily basis.’