The RCGP is calling for a major update of the general practice forward view (GPFV) and for more money to be injected into the programme.
The GPFV was published in April 2016. It is an aid of support for general practice , underpinned by extra money, and identified challenges that needed to be addressed within general practice.
NHS England needs to invest an extra £2.5bn a year by 2020/21 on top of the additional funding of £2.4bn a year already pledged in the GPFV, the RCGP said.
Over £10bn was invested in general practice in 2016/17.
In its second annual assessment of the GPFV, the RCGP found that the five-year programme is falling behind its pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020.
Since the programme was launched in April 2016, the GP workforce has in fact dropped by the equivalent of 1,000 full-time GPs, which means the NHS now needs to recruit more than 6,000 to meet the Government’s target.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘GPs play a vital role, which is why the NHS is on track to increase primary care spending by an extra £2.4bn by 2020.
‘Rather than individual lobbying groups plucking implausible figures from the air, the NHS is now carefully developing a long term plan for affordable and phased improvements over the coming decade.’
The RCGP said the funding needs to be reviewed ‘to recognise the changing landscape of NHS funding, which now includes a promise of £20bn extra a year by 2023’– announced by prime minister Theresa May in June this year.
Providing general practice services has become more challenging in the last two years, the college said, hence the need for the additional funding that will protect patients’ safety and guarantee the future of GP services.
Investment in general practice could fall to 8.9% of NHS health spend by 2020/21, according to the college, in comparison with is even lower than what it used to be a year before the GPFV was launched, in 2015.
When the GPFV was launched, the NHS committed to over £12bn a year by 2020/21, but the RCGP has now suggested adding an additional £2.5bn a year by 2020/21, which will bring the total to £14.5bn in 2020/21.
Adopting the RCGP’s recommendation would see 11% of overall NHS spend go to general practice.
An RCGP spokesperson said they will work with the Department of Health and Social care to decide where the funding is going to go exactly.
‘The lifeblood of the NHS’
RCGP chair professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said GPs and their team ‘make the vast majority of patients contacts for little over 9%’ of the total NHS budget.
She added: ‘General practice is the lifeblood of the NHS. The new Secretary of State recently identified Workforce and Prevention as his top priorities.
‘If he is serious about tackling the workforce crisis and keeping patients out of hospital, it is essential that the government invests properly in general practice.’
‘GPs and our teams across the country are struggling – and that makes innovation almost impossible.