Patients could lose 2400 GPs as result of CSR announcement

Publication date: 01 July 2013

Comprehensive Spending Review could result in patients losing as many as 2400 GPs

Patients could lose up to 2,400 GPs as the Chancellor’s decision announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review that £2bn of health service funding will be put in a pooled fund for joint spending with local authorities in 2015-2016, in order to integrate health and social care.

Analysis by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) shows that, if general practice is not protected, around £200m of the funding that it currently receives would be directed into the pooled fund, which many observers believe will primarily be used to pay for cash-strapped social services.

The RCGP fears that far from the health budget being ‘ring-fenced’, the Chancellor’s spending plans, announced on Wednesday, could lead to a cut in funding for general practice and a substantial reduction in the number of GPs.

Recent RCGP research has shown that general practice is already at breaking point – a College poll, released two weeks ago, revealed that 85% of UK doctors think general practice is 'in crisis', and nearly half of GPs said they can no longer guarantee safe patient care.

Such is the crisis in general practice, the RCGP is calling on the Government to guarantee that none of the money put into the pooled fund will be diverted away from general practice. It is also calling on ministers instead to use the fund to give more resources to general practice – which oversees 90% of the NHS contacts, but only gets 9% of the NHS budget.

In his Comprehensive Spending Review announced on Wednesday, the Chancellor announced that the NHS budget would be ring-fenced, but at the same time disclosed that a pooled fund would be created to integrate health and social care.

By the Treasury’s own calculations, this will mean taking away £200m from the NHS in 2014-2015, followed by a staggering £2bn in 2015-2016, as the size of the pooled fund increases to £3.8m.

The RCGP’s analysis of how the diversion of money away from the NHS and into the pooled fund will impact upon general practice is based on the current funding formula, under which general practice receives just 9% of current NHS funding.

Under this formula, though general practice would contribute 9% of the money being moved from the health service budget into the pooled fund, this would mean the loss of £18m in 2014-2015 and a further £180m in 2015-2016.

With 8,088 GP practices in England, the average practice would lose £2,225.52 in 2014-2015 and £22,255.19 in 2015-2016. For a GP practice open 50 weeks a year for 50 hours a week, by 2015-2016, this is the equivalent of £8.90 being lost every hour. Across England the funding lost would be the equivalent of the sum paid for 2,390 salaried GPs.

RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said:

"General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS, but it is in crisis, with GPs facing ballooning workloads and constant pressure to race through as many patient consultations as possible, therefore compromising safe patient care.

"When general practice starts to buckle, the entire health service comes under increasing strain and any substantial cut in the number of GPs – at a time when we are crying out for more – will have a devastating impact on our patients.”

She added:

"While most people breathed a huge sigh of relief on Wednesday when the Chancellor announced that the NHS budget would continue to be protected, our analysis shows that, in reality, the budget for general practice in 2015-2016 could suffer from savage cuts.

"At a time when we are already struggling to cope with the demands of an ageing population and a patient client group that has increasingly complex health issues, it is ludicrous that the Chancellor has put in place a programme that risks taking millions of pounds out of general practice. Right now, we need 10,000 more GPs, not 2,400 fewer.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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