RCGP writes to express 'dismay' over new GP contract

The College has written to the DHSC and NHSE to raise concerns over the new GP contract arrangements, which will amount in a real terms funding cut for general practice.

To: Victoria Atkins MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 

Andrea Leadsom, Minister for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care 

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive, NHS England 

I am writing, on behalf of the RCGP’s members, to express dismay at the GP contract arrangements for 2024/25 set out in the recent letter from NHSE

The core practice contract financial uplift of just 1.9% amounts to a real terms funding cut when compared to CPI inflation1, which will make it even harder for GPs to deliver the care our patients need at a time when general practice is already in crisis. This is incompatible with the Government’s professed commitment to a health service focused on prevention and providing an increasing proportion of care in the community, and with the RCGP’s call to enable this by increasing the share of NHS funding spent on general practice.  

Despite a fall in the number of fully qualified GPs, general practice is providing care for more patients than ever before, delivering on the Government’s pledge to increase the number of appointments offered by 50 million a year. In December 2023, general practice delivered 7% more appointments than December 2019, with 2.9% fewer fully qualified GPs.    

GPs can't keep doing more with less. This derisory funding plan for general practice will have real life consequences for the profession, the service we provide and, most importantly, for our patients. This is sadly part of an ongoing trend of neglecting primary care, with the Government’s own figures showing the proportion of Integrated Care Board direct commissioning spend on primary medical care has fallen to 8.4% in 2023/24 - a smaller share than in any of the previous eight years. Practices will not notice any real benefit from the small amounts of flexibility being introduced by the contract whilst the service as a whole remains starved of funding.  It is hugely disappointing that the Government has failed to heed the calls by the RCGP, the BMA and others to remove the restrictions attached to the additional roles reimbursement scheme to allow practices to use this funding to recruit more, much needed, GPs.  

In addition to correcting   this funding cut the Government must urgently come up with a plan to secure the future of general practice and stem the exodus of GPs from the profession. Our recent manifesto 'Seven steps to save general practice and safeguard our NHS' sets out a blueprint for doing this and it is vital that the RCGP is invited to play a leading role in the taskforce on the Future of General Practice announced in the contract letter.   

According to a recent public poll commissioned by the College, 83% of the public2 agreed that the next government must take action to improve access to general practice. When general practice is allowed to crumble, the whole of the NHS fails. If the Government truly values general practice and the contribution that it makes to the NHS, it must demonstrate this with action, not just words.    

Yours sincerely, 

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of Royal College of General Practitioners

1. The agreed measure used for the 2019-24 GP contract investment framework

2. 2,003 people surveyed

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 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.