Editorial: Invest in GP global sums - not gimmicks

GP is writing this shortly before this year's UK LMCs conference in York.

'The opposition parties should be looking at the causes of increased demand if they want to offer workable solutions'.
'The opposition parties should be looking at the causes of increased demand if they want to offer workable solutions'.

It may be that the LMCs meeting, taking place on 22 and 23 May, highlights a solution to the current funding problems dogging general practice.

Earlier this month, Labour leader Ed Miliband promised £100m for the return of 48-hour GP
access in England, or the equivalent of about £12,000 per practice.

Surely the opposition parties should be looking at the causes of increased demand if they want to offer workable solutions that will engage the profession. This sounds little different from the current government throwing £500m at hospitals to ‘solve’ the A&E crisis.

It’s another target for underfunded general practice that will only increase the pressure on overstretched teams. We need some innovative thinking, not more of the same. At least practices were invited to bid for the £50m extended hours Challenge Fund.

It would appear that the readers of our website agree, with only 21% backing Labour’s pledge. Even worse is Labour’s idea that the 48-hour appointment guarantee should be written into the GP contract.

What is needed is a far less broad-brush approach that would look at local solutions to local GP access problems and seek to invest in practice global sums, not gimmicks, to offer them thestability so many are crying out for.

This month the BMA launched its ‘Your GP Cares’ campaign and below, Dr Beth McCarron-Nash explains the thinking behind the campaign. The temptation for the LMCs conference to back the motion calling for GPs to charge patients £10 to £25 for appointments at a time of funding threats must be immense.

But it is one that the conference has in the past not succumbed to – and GP would be surprised if it did this year. It should be for political parties – not patients – to find, rather than directly fund, the innovative financial solutions that are needed to ensure practices’ viability. 

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