The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has pleaded with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to help increase primary care funding.
Dr Maureen Baker (pictured) sent a letter to all 211 CCGs in England with a call to “reverse the decline in general practice”.
The RCGP chair pointed out three government funding pots which could be used to invest in general practice.
The Better Care Fund (formerly known as the Integration Transformation Fund) is £3.8 billion worth of local authority and NHS money which could be used to commission new services from general practice, if it will aid increased integrated services.
NHS England has assured RCGP that the Better Care Fund could be used to this end.
CCGs have set aside £5 per head of population to commission additional services which will support the role of “accountable GP” in managing care outside of hospitals.
And the Prime Minister’s £50 million Challenge Fund was announced in OCtober to “stimulate” innovative ways of providing primary care services. Practices are currently being invited to bid to become pilot sites as part of this initiative.
“As we approach a new financial year, CCGs will have a vital opportunity to provide general practice with the boost in resources it needs to drive improvements in patient care,” said Dr Baker.
She said: “We understand that resources are tight across the NHS and CCGs are facing the difficult challenge of ensuring proper investment in a range of services while balancing an extremely tight budget.
“In the context of an ageing population with patients increasingly living with multiple long term conditions, we believe there is a strong case for investing in the generalist skills that GPs and their teams provide.”
Funding for general practice in England has reached its lowest point on record – down to just 8.5% of the NHS budget compared to 10.95% eight years ago, according to the RCGP.
The RCGP is currently campaigning for the share of the NHS budget spent on general practice to be increased to 11% by 2017.
Dr Baker said: “We hope that CCGs will support our campaign and help us capitalise on the funding opportunities that will help us reverse the decline in general practice so that we can deliver the care that our patients need and deserve in their own communities.”