GP Forward View 'failing to tackle GP crisis'

General practice remains in 'critical condition' because the GP Forward View has failed to make a major impact on recruitment and retention or unmanageable workload in primary care, a BMA report warns.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey

BMA leaders have called for a review to investigate whether funding promised through the GP Forward View - which pledged a £2.4bn uplift in annual GP funding by the end of the decade - is being delivered.

The report highlights a lack of transparency over funding, a lack of evidence that key programmes meant to support general practice are effective, and bureaucratic hurdles that prevent promised funding trickling through to the frontline.

The report, The GP Forward View: two years on, says it is 'not clear' whether recurrent funding promised under the flagship investment plan is reaching practices.

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One in 10 GP practices could be forced to close by 2020
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GP Forward View funding explained

The BMA progress report on the GP Forward View also warned that as many as one in 10 GP practices in England could be forced to close by 2020, based on the current rate at which practices are disappearing.

The BMA has long warned that even with funding increases promised under the GP Forward View, general practice remains £3.7bn short of the 11% share of NHS funding that doctors' leaders believe it requires.

The report urges the government to use its plans to increase overall investment in the NHS to top up the share of funding general practice receives.

Recruitment to general practice is falling short despite evidence of growing trainee numbers, the GP Forward View progress report warns. Although programmes such as the targeted enhanced recruitment scheme (TERS) have boosted recruitment, others such as the GP retention scheme have attracted low numbers, the BMA says.

The report also calls for greater transparency over how CCGs plan to spend the £3 per head of population they were meant to deliver to support practice 'transformation'.

Transformation

It highlights problems securing funding through the estates and transformation fund, and suggests that funding for online consultations 'does not seem to be reaching practices'.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'As GPs face the mounting pressures of increased demand, unmanageable workloads and lack of resources, more and more are leaving the profession or handing back their contracts. At the same time, too many medical school graduates are seeing the situation unfold in general practice and understandably choosing other specialties.

'In 2016 NHS England published its GP Forward View, outlining a number of measures aimed at improving primary care provision and the working lives of doctors, but two years on, it’s clear that it is struggling to deliver on its promises, leaving most of the profession unconvinced that the plan will make a material difference to their workload pressures.

'While progress has been made in a number of areas, the GP Forward View has failed to make a big enough impact on the recruitment and retention crisis, and has been unable, so far, to make any significant inroad into the unmanageable daily workload within general practice. Furthermore, despite frequent requests from the BMA, NHS England is yet to clarify whether its spending promises are on track.'

A DHSC spokesman said: 'There are a number of reasons why GP practices close - they may merge with other practices in order to improve services to their patients or GPs could retire from single-handed practices.

'But we recognise the everyday pressures facing GPs and that’s why we’re increasing investment by £2.4bn a year by 2021 and are determined to recruit 5,000 new doctors to grow a strong and sustainable general practice for the future.'

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