Funding for GP practices has increased by over £500m in the last year, according to official data published today.
NHS England’s Investment in General Practice report said general practice received £10.8bn in 2017/18, £580m more than last year’s total of £10.2bn.
This represents a 3.9% real term increase on the previous 12 months, and a 17.8% aggregated real term growth since April 2013 – the last time the Department of Health managed the funding before NHS England took it over.
This, NHS England said, means it is ahead of programme on plans to invest £12bn a year by 2020, as outlined in the General Practice Forward View (GPFV).
NHS England’s acting director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘GPs are at the heart of the NHS and the sustained and significant general practice funding increases in each of the past five years are helping general practice respond to the rapidly growing needs of an expanding and aging population.’
She added that as part of the long-term plan, the NHS will recruit more trainee doctors, continue to favour integration between GP services, the community and secondary care and widen access to appointments.
GPFV schemes received a whopping £511m in 2017/18, up from the £386m spent in 2016/17, including funds for:
- The Estates and Technology Fund: Around £160m were invested through the fund, reaching a total of nearly £400m in the last three years. The funds were used to develop new consulting rooms, larger buildings and facilities for treatments such as minor surgeries.
- Improving access to general practice: In the past year, over £144m flowed into services designed to improve access to general practice. In addition, all local clinical commissioning groups have decide to save at least £171m (£3 per head) over 2017/18 and 2018/19 to support GP practice transformation.
- Expanding the general practice workforce: Over £77m were invested to provide general practices with an expanded workforce with roles such as clinical pharmacists, for instance.
‘Not reflective of the money reaching practices’
However, the BMA is arguing that the figures published today are ‘not reflective of the money reaching practices and their patients – as it also includes drug reimbursement and other initiatives including services in A&E departments’.
BMA GP committee England chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Today’s real investment figure of £10.2bn (an increase of 4.4% since last year) represents 8.1% of the NHS budget going to general practice – falling £3.6bn short of the BMA’s target of 11%.’
The BMA said that – if using the NHS’s ‘total departmental expenditure limit as a measure of the NHS budget’ – allocating 11% of this to general practice would bring the total investment up to £14.6bn in 2020/21.
Steve Williams, co-chair of the Practice Management Network (PMN) said: ‘Many PMs have said that they cannot see where the funding has actually gone. They believe that funding has been passed to CCGs, but they would like clarity about what is available to the actual practice itself and what the mechanism is to actually access these funds.
‘The PMN has raised this issue with NHS England.’
The RCGP recently called for an ‘overhaul’ of the GPFV, including an extra £2.5bn a year by 2020/21 to be invested in general practice. It calculated that this would bring the total investment to £14.5bn in 2020/21.