Alarming NHS deficit figures ignore £2bn-plus GP cash shortfall, warns GPC

Financial data that show the NHS faces a £2bn deficit by the end of 2015/16 mask a funding shortfall in general practice worth at least that amount annually, GP leaders have warned.

Dr Richard Vautrey: 'Hospital deficits must not mask GP funding shortfall'
Dr Richard Vautrey: 'Hospital deficits must not mask GP funding shortfall'

Figures from foundation trust watchdog Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority revealed today that NHS providers are almost £1bn in deficit after just three months of the current financial year.

Experts warned that without an emergency injection of funding in the upcoming spending review, 'rapid and serious cuts to patient care' were inevitable.

Last month, GPonline revealed that foundation trusts involved in several of the vanguard schemes trialling new NHS models of care faced probes over their finances or governance.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'The financial pressures facing the NHS are alarming, but these deficit figures fail to include or even acknowledge the hidden deficit within general practice funding.'

Video: GPs need 11% of NHS budget

His comments come just a week after RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker called on George Osborne to set out a roadmap for returning general practice to the 11% share of total NHS funding it received a decade ago.

Dr Vautrey added: 'In relative terms we only receive three quarters of the share of NHS funding now that we received in 2006. As currently UK general practice receives approximately £10.5bn, we've actually got a funding deficit of at least £2bn just to deliver the same level of services we were doing almost a decade ago. The reality is our workload has gone up significantly and so the funding deficit being managed by general practice is even greater than that.

'We urgently need additional investment just to maintain current service provision. The promised £8bn cannot just be used for more hospital investment at the expense of general practice and nor can it be used to pay for an expanded service when big cracks are appearing in the current foundation which must be repaired first.'

Photo: Alex Deverill

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