Autumn budget must deliver 'significant boost' to GP funding, warns BMA

Monday's autumn budget announcement must deliver a 'significant boost to general practice funding' to make the NHS sustainable in the long term, the BMA has warned.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)

In a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of the 29 October budget announcement, BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned that over the past decade doctors had seen larger falls in income than any other professional group covered by the review bodies that advise the government on public sector pay.

The BMA chair said the government must increase the share of the total NHS budget spent on general practice to 'a minimum spend of 11%' - and that the £20bn extra funding promised for the health service by 2023 would not be enough.

The chancellor's budget statement is expected to reveal how the government will fund the promised £20bn increase in the NHS annual budget. Think tanks have suggested a mix of borrowing and tax increases could be unveiled to fund the increase.

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In charts: The 10-year decline in real-terms GP income

GPs have seen real-terms income drop 20% since 2008, the BMA chair said - while hospital consultants had seen a 19% drop and junior doctors' pay fell by 21%.

Earlier this year, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced a 2% rise in pay for GP partners for 2018/19 - but the rise fell well short of the 4% recommended by the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) - and was criticised as 'extremely concerning' by doctors' leaders.

Dr Nagpaul wrote: 'The BMA is calling on the government to end the period of falling real pay and to start listening to a truly independent pay review body. General practice remains pivotal in being the first point of contact looking after most patients’ healthcare needs, yet it has faced a decade of underinvestment.

GP funding

'A significant boost to general practice funding is required to make the NHS more sustainable in the longer-term. A minimum spend of 11% of the total NHS budget must be invested in general practice. The funding in the long-term plan will be insufficient to address this immediate problem.'

Polling by GPonline following the 2% GP pay award revealed that many doctors do not expect to receive an increase in pay of that magnitude. This website also reported last month that thousands of GPs are working in so-called 'zombie practices' - where partners are out-earned by salaried doctors.

Last year's autumn budget announcement saw the chancellor set out plans for a £2.8bn NHS funding increase over 2018/19

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