Editorial: Invest in general practice to improve

'The historic strength of general practice risks being weakened unless we rectify the relative underinvestment of a decade or more.'

These could be words from any GP editorial in recent years, but are actually a quote from NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, speaking exclusively to GP on page 16.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, speaking exclusively to GP on page 8, puts a similar case as he places GPs at the heart of his election pitch.

Mr Hunt, however, may not be in a position to encourage CCGs to invest in general practice after the 7 May election, so Mr Stevens' commitment to the GP cause could be more significant.

Exclusive analysis by GP on page 6 finds practices rated 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' by the CQC receive about £50,000 a year below the national average rate of funding. Average funding per weighted patient at the 47 practices rated in these categories is £7 below the national average of £136 per patient. For an average practice with 7,000 patients, this is equivalent to £49,000.

Would increasing funding at practices rated 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' be the answer, or part of the answer, to transforming them into better performing operations?

Our investigation also finds that some practices, including that of former GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden, perform well despite low funding.

Imagine the success if they had more resources.

Our work also begs the question, should funding be a factor for CQC inspectors to consider before they pass judgment on practices?

Mr Stevens and Mr Hunt, or his successor, will be judged on their ability to encourage greater CCG investment in general practice. At the very least, our exclusive interviews show, there is some intention to achieve that goal.

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