08.08.18

GP Forward View needs urgent overhaul with £2.5bn cash injection, RCGP chair says

The NHS’s GP Forward View needs an extra £2.5bn a year or rising pressures will cause doctors to leave the profession, the chair of a leading GP body has said.

In its second annual assessment of the Forward View— which, when it was announced in 2016, included a £2.4bn investment to address problems facing GP practices – the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) found that an additional £2.5bn was necessary to protect patient safety and ensure the future of the continuity of GP care.

The RCGP also highlighted areas where the Five Year Forward View plan is failing: despite claims during its launched that the GP workforce would be boosted by 5,000 by 2020, since then the GP workforce has actually fallen by over 1,000— meaning a massive 6,000 extra are needed to meet the target in two years’ time.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said although the Forward View remains “the most constructive” solution to the doctor workforce crisis, it needs urgent overhaul to address the pledges that “are not progressing fast enough.”

“General practice is the lifeblood of the NHS,” she said. “GPs and our teams make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts for little over 9% of the overall budget, and in doing so we alleviate pressures in hospitals where care is costlier.

"Of course, we need to work differently in general practice, but GPs and our teams across the country are struggling – and that makes innovation almost impossible. Our workload is constantly escalating, both in volume and complexity, and we are constantly firefighting, trying to keep up with demand, without enough resources to do so.”

Prof Stokes-Lampard also commented to the Daily Telegraph this morning that, as waiting times get longer and longer due to GP shortages, people will “start looking for an alternative.”

Following Theresa May’s announcement of an extra £20bn a year for the NHS by 2023, the RCGP is now calling for the extra £2.5bn a year, bringing investment up to £14.5bn a year.

Despite this, the royal college did note several key areas where progress is being made, including more GPs in training than ever before, and the promises of a state-backed medical indemnity for GPs in England. Its report includes the results of a survey of 1,216 GPs.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise the invaluable contribution of GPs and we are determined to support them in every way – that’s why we’re investing an extra £2.4 billion a year into general practice by 2020/21 and a record number of doctors are in training.

“As part of our long-term plan for the NHS, we are increasing overall funding by an average of 3.4% per year - meaning that by 2023/24 it will receive £20.5 billion a year more than it currently does.”

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Image credit: SARINYAPINNGAM, iStock images

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