Election 2010: GPs want funding to build up primary care capacity

Funding £1 billion primary care funding pledge as election neared.

Gordon Brown: £1 billion pledge
Gordon Brown: £1 billion pledge

The Labour party pledged to invest £1 billion in primary care and community services over the next five years in the final run up to the election.

The party's health manifesto, released just nine days before the election, promised £200 million a year and 'reform of how GP practices work'.

GPC member Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said whichever party won the general election would have to spend 'that amount and more' to create the capacity in primary care to take on extra work from hospitals.

'All the parties' health manifestos look similar,' Dr Watson said. But there was a 'huge financial hole' in plans to move NHS services into the community.

Speaking a week before polling day, a Labour spokeswoman said there were 'no plans yet, specifically' on how the sum would be spent.

The manifesto drew existing Labour policies into a set of 'rights' for patients, with a pledge to continue investing in GP-led health centres and expand cancer testing in primary care.

'The commitment to deliver one-week cancer tests will require significant capital investment into primary care, as well as a clear national target and reform of the way in which GP practices work,' the document, Your Personal NHS Guarantee, says.

'We have committed over the next five years to £1 billion of new capital investment (£200 million per annum) into primary and community services.'

The document reiterated plans to give patients 'a right to choose a GP in your area open evenings and weekends'. It also set out plans to give patients 'the right to see a cancer specialist within two weeks and a maximum wait of no longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment'.

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