Budget must supply funding for GPs to tackle winter pressures, RCGP says

The RCGP has written to chancellor Philip Hammond urging him not to overlook general practice for emergency winter funding in his autumn budget speech today.

Promises made in the GP Forward View – including the £2.4bn a year in funding and 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 – must be ‘delivered in full’, chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard wrote in a letter to the chancellor.

She also called for longer-term measures to provide funding for GP premises and equipment. Dr Stokes-Lampard's letter follows warnings from the BMA that some practices were being forced to close their patient lists to ease pressure.

Speaking ahead of the budget announcement, she told GPonline: ‘The chancellor has an opportunity to make decisions that will retain our NHS as a beacon of national pride, and the envy of the world. We certainly support the calls we’ve heard – from across the board – for further investment in our health service.

‘The entire NHS is under significant pressure and is struggling to cope with ever-increasing levels of demand – and as winter approaches, this will only be intensified. In general practice, our workload has risen 16% over the last seven years but investment in our service has declined over the last decade and the GP workforce has not risen at pace with demand.

Read the RCGP's letter to the chancellor in full

‘We have written to the chancellor ahead of delivering his budget, urging him to ensure that general practice is not overlooked in any emergency funding for the NHS to deal with winter pressures.

‘GPs and our teams see over 1m patients a day across the country, the vast majority of patient contact in the NHS – by doing so, we alleviate pressures on hospitals, we keep the NHS sustainable, and we keep our patients safe. But we need the funding and resources to be able to continue to do this.

‘In our letter to the chancellor, we’ve also called for longer term measures to extend to the Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF) to ensure that general practice premises and equipment are fit for the 21st century. Our members tell us that these funds are not reaching the frontline of patient care, and many surgeries are not receiving the level of support they require.

‘Ultimately, we urgently need the NHS England’s GP Forward View – which promises an extra £2.4bn a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020 – delivered in full, so that we can continue to deliver the care our patients need and deserve.’

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