Exclusive: 61% of GPs say GP Forward View will not end general practice crisis

More than three out of five GPs do not believe NHS England's General Practice Forward View will end the crisis facing the profession, a GPonline poll suggests.

Asked whether they agreed that the landmark deal - which sets out plans to increase the share of NHS funding spent on general practice to more than 10% by 2020/21 - would end the GP crisis, 45% of respondents said they 'strongly disagreed'. A further 16% said they 'mildly disagreed'.

Nearly half of GPs (47%) who took part in the poll also said that despite the funding pledge from NHS England, the BMA should not scrap plans to canvass the profession over handing in undated resignations. GPonline revealed earlier this year that thousands of GPs were prepared to hand in undated contract resignations to strengthen the BMA's hand in negotiations over NHS funding for general practice.

Many GPs of the 363 GPs responding to the poll warned that the funding package was 'too little too late', with many highlighting concerns that although it will increase the proportion of NHS funding spent on general practice, the GP Forward View may not deliver immediate support.

GP Forward View: full coverage

One GP responding to the poll warned: 'We need immediate income with no strings attached to restore us to the 2004 equivalent [level of funding]. Why wait another five years to leave us less well-financed than 12 years ago?

'Who do they think will be left? Who do they think will commit themselves to general practice if that's all that's on offer? It won't even be GP funding - if it happens, the funding will go to "primary care" and to funding unnecessary seven-day routine access to the detriment of continuity, good general practice, out-of-hours services and professional standing.'

Another GP said: 'If they think it's just about money they have misjudged the situation dreadfully. Money will help but it needs to be now, it needs to be without hundreds of hoops to jump through to get it.'

Just 20% of GPs who responded to the survey agreed that it would end the crisis facing the profession, while 19% were neutral about the impact it would have.

GP contract

Funding for general practice will rise by at least £2.4bn a year by 2020/21 under the funding package, taking the overall share of NHS funding spent on general practice to more than 10%, according to NHS England.

When the GP Forward View was unveiled by NHS England in April, RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker hailed it as the 'most significant announcement for our profession since the 1960s'.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the deal showed that the health service was 'no longer in denial' over the crisis facing general practice.

Senior BMA GPs at a meeting in the week after the package was announced said it did not go far enough to tackle the full range of issues facing the profession. GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul saidthe committee did not believe that 'rescuing general practice is limited to the detail in the Forward View’.

GPs responding to the poll were critical of the deal. One said: 'Let's see if it actually translates to more GPs at the coal face. I think we are more than 10% overworked at present, so likely to take more than a 10% increase to end the crisis.'

GP crisis

Another said: 'We need assistance NOW. If not, general practice as we know it will not survive until 2020.'

Another GP said: 'It's still a smaller proportion than was available in 2000 and the workload expected in GP has doubled in that space of time. So while it sounds good, it actually means we are doing more work with significantly less proportional funding.'

One GP said simply: 'I think this is too little, too late.'

However, launching the GP Forward View, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens made clear that he believed the deal was a turning point for general practice that acknowledged the pressure facing the profession.

'GPs are by far the largest branch of British medicine,' Mr Stevens said. 'And as a recent BMJ headline put it – if general practice fails, the whole NHS fails. So if anyone 10 years ago had said: "Here’s what the NHS should now do - cut the share of funding for primary care and grow the number of hospital specialists three times faster than GPs", they’d have been laughed out of court.

'But looking back over a decade, that’s exactly what’s happened. Which is why it’s no great surprise that a recent international survey revealed British GPs are under far greater pressure than their counterparts, with rising workload matched by growing patient concerns about convenient access. So rather than ignore these real pressures, the NHS has at last begun openly acknowledging them. Now we need to act, and this plan sets out exactly how.'

Photo: iStock

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