'Savage cuts' threaten loss of 2,400 GPs

Up to 2,400 GPs could be lost from the workforce as a result of pooling an extra £2bn of spending between the NHS and local councils, the RCGP has warned.

Dr Gerada: A cut to GP numbers would have a 'devastating impact' on patients
Dr Gerada: A cut to GP numbers would have a 'devastating impact' on patients

Research by the college suggests that unless general practice is protected, around £200m of funding for general practice could be diverted into the new fund, announced in last week’s comprehensive spending review.

Chancellor George Osborne announced NHS funding would rise by 0.1% in real terms in 2015/16, with a cash rise of around £2bn.

But an amount equivalent to the entire increase will be diverted into the £3.8bn pooled fund to support joint working between the NHS and local authorities from 2015/16.

The RCGP said far from the NHS being ring-fenced, the plans could lead to a cut in general practice funding and a substantial reduction in GPs.

The college calculated that a £2bn cut would lead the average practice to lose £2,226 in 2014/15 and £22,255 in 2015/2016. Across England, the funding lost would be the equivalent of the sum paid for 2,390 salaried GPs.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said: 'While most people breathed a huge sigh of relief when the chancellor announced that the NHS budget would continue to be protected, our analysis shows that, in reality, the budget for general practice in 2015/2016 could suffer from savage cuts.

‘At a time when we are already struggling to cope with the demands of an ageing population and a patient client group that has increasingly complex health issues, it is ludicrous that the chancellor has put in place a programme that risks taking millions of pounds out of general practice. Right now, we need 10,000 more GPs, not 2,400 fewer.’

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