BMA demands urgent £2.5bn investment to end GP crisis

GP leaders have called for an additional £2.5bn funding for general practice as an urgent measure to help relieve pressure on the service.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: ‘GPs are calling for urgent and sustained action to resolve the crisis'

The BMA’s ‘urgent prescription’ to turn around the crisis facing general practice was published on Thursday as NHS England and the DH prepare to announce their GP Roadmap policy package, expected within days.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GPs were calling for ‘both urgent and sustained action to resolve the current crisis’.

The document sets out a series of series of policy proposals to be implemented as part of an immediate rescue package and to provide long-term sustainability for general practice.

The measures include:

  • Fair and sustainable funding and resources to reach a minimum of 11% of NHS spend to cover the work of general practice and to resolve the funding deficit of around £2.5bn.
  • Reducing workload to ensure delivery of safe and high quality care with a national standard for a maximum number of patients that GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals can reasonably deal with within a working day and greater clarity about what work is appropriate to be delivered by practices.
  • An expanded workforce, both within and around the practice.
  • Reducing the regulatory burden of the CQC to prevent time and resource being taken away from service provision.
  • Reducing bureaucracy and duplication to empower professionals and to give more time to care for patients.

GP funding

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has said the delayed GP Roadmap policy package would be 'far wider’ than the annual contract changes to help practices with workload, workforce and care redesign.

The package, which was first revealed by GPonline in January, is expected to include details on the roll-out of new care models and the enhanced GP services developed by the prime minister’s Challenge Fund pilots.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said details of how new investment allocated to the service will be spent. NHS England has announced plans to increase GP funding by 4-5% a year for the next five years.

Other measures expected in the GP Roadmap include bureaucracy reduction plans first announced by Mr Hunt last October, including scrapping GPs' responsibility for hospital re-referrals following missed appointments, and the creation of a unified, single stream GP payments system.

Plans to streamline CQC inspections are expected, as well as measures to increase the workforce, including incentives to help keep GPs in the profession and to address areas with workforce shortages.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘GPs across the country are calling for both urgent and sustained action to resolve the current crisis facing general practice and ensure that practices can deliver high-quality and safe patient care, both today and in the future. This important document brings together practical and deliverable ideas from GPs and sets out a comprehensive, positive and practical approach which, if adopted, would make a significant difference to both practices and patients.

‘It responds to the current state of emergency in general practice resulting from unmanageable workload, insufficient funding, staff shortages, excessive bureaucracy and suffocating regulation from bodies like the CQC. The need to address these issues was the clear message from the recent Special Conference of LMCs and the driving force behind the BMA’s urgent prescription for general practice campaign.

‘This document provides the detail of the BMA’s campaign, with a comprehensive range of specific measures to address the crisis in general practice. Fundamentally, it calls for a reversal in the decline in funding for general practice to ensure it has the resources to cope with escalating demand and provide GPs with the space and time to provide high-quality, safe patient care. It also proposes ways to limit workload to safe levels, manage demand, end the inappropriate bureaucratic demands on GPs and support practices with new ways of collaborative working and maximising the potential of technology.

‘There is no single, silver bullet to solve the crisis in general practice, and these multifaceted proposals will form the basis of BMA’s call on the government and NHS England to urgently rescue general practice from its parlous state today, while developing a sustainable service for the future.’

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