Hailed as ‘the most significant announcement for our profession since the 1960s’ by RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker, others were more sceptical.
Commenting on GPonline, south London GP, BMA council member and leading National Health Action party member Dr Louise Irvine warned that the damage done to general practice over the last decade would not be so easily undone.
‘Let’s be clear,' she said. ‘This is not new money. It’s the same money that was announced by [chancellor George] Osborne with such fanfare in the Autumn review. The same meagre amount for the whole NHS, just redistributed more towards general practice. This funding settlement amounts to 0.9% per annum in real terms. It is not nearly enough to meet the estimated 4% annual rise based on changing demographics and health technology inflation.
‘These are the lowest annual increases in NHS spending for decades and represent the biggest fall in NHS spending as a percentage of GDP since 1951.’
An increased share for general practice, warned Dr Irvine, would mean lower funding for other, struggling parts of the NHS.
While GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul welcomed the announcement as ‘a significant and comprehensive package of proposals’, Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said the plans were not enough.
‘Today’s announcement falls far short of what is needed to address the challenges facing general practice in the capital and beyond,' she said.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey tweeted that he was ‘wary’ about the ‘lack of detail’ on the plans.
Dr Stephanie De Giorgio of the grassroots Resilient GP group agreed. ‘There is no detail,' she said. ‘Have sat here for hours trying to make it add up. It doesn't.’
@ralanshirley @rvautrey @TheBMA there is no detail. Have sat here for hours trying to make it add up. It doesn't.— Stephanie deGiorgio (@DrSdeG) April 21, 2016
Humberside LMC medical director and GPC member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni was also concerned about the lack of detail.
@ralanshirley @DeanEggitt Worrying lack of detail. All this in 5 years?— Krishna Kasaraneni (@Dr_Kasaraneni) April 21, 2016
Sheffield GP Dr Alan Shirley raised concerns about whether new funding from the Better Care Fund and for CCGs promised in the GP Forward View would reach practices.
@DeanEggitt but will the money come out of STP Better Care Fund CCG Uplift to GP?— Alan Shirley (@ralanshirley) April 21, 2016
Cambridge University professor of health services research, professor Martin Roland, who chaired Health Education England’s recent primary care workforce inquiry, said it was a ‘good day for primary care’.
The package would be seen as a ‘turning point’, he said, ‘as important as the 1965 GP charter’.
House of Commons health select committee chairwoman and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston said she was ‘really pleased’ her committee’s primary care inquiry, which also published its findings today, had helped prompt NHS England’s reform package.
‘NHS England’s announcements represent a welcome step forward and address the priorities highlighted in our report, especially improving access and allowing time to provide better care for patients. I particularly welcome the focus on increasing the multidisciplinary primary care workforce.’
Family Doctor Association chairman Dr Peter Swinyard welcomed the new money but noted general practice’s share of overall NHS Funding would still be lower in 2020 than it was in 2010.
The FDA said that care redesign at a time of a critical GP shortage seemed at times like ‘the proverbial shifting of deckchairs’.