Funding for general practice has slumped to a nine-year low, new figures show.
According to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the National Association for Patient Participation (NAAP) claim this lack of funding is compromising the standard to care offered to patients, leading to longer waiting times and increasing pressure on A&E.
In 2004/05 10.33% of the British NHS budget was spent on general practice. By 2011/12 this figure had declined by almost 2% to 8.4%, the groups have said.
An opinion poll commissioned by the RCGP shows 70% of GPs fear that waiting times will worsen over the next two years, 80% say they no longer have the resources to provide high-level patient care and 47% of GPs have had to withdraw some patient services.
The RCGP and NAAP are calling on the government to increase the percentage of NHS spending on general practice to 11% by 2017.
Newly appointed RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: “The share of the NHS budget spent on general practice has slumped to the lowest point on record.
“The various NHS bodies and governments who decide how we divide the NHS funding cake in the UK have inadvertently allowed a situation to develop in which funding for general practice is being steadily eroded. With services now at breaking point, it’s time to come up with a plan to turn the tide.
“The governments of the UK must end this crisis by increasing spending on patient care in general practice to 11% of the total NHS budget across the UK by 2017.”
President and chair of the National Association for Patient Participation, Patricia Wilkie, said:
“We believe that there needs to be increased investment in patients and GP care in order to improve and sustain the high standards of quality in patient care that patients need and GPs want to give.”