GP Forward View: NHS England's plans are no panacea for general practice

Like most of her colleagues, Kent GP and co-founder of the grassroots Resilient GP organisation Dr Stephanie De Giorgio desperately wanted to like the long-awaited GP Forward View published today by NHS England. But despite impressive headline figures, this is by no means the saviour UK general practice has been waiting for, she argues.

This morning has been spent in a flurry of social media and emails about the #GPForwardView. The range of opinions has been from welcoming it as a 'turning point for general practice' to 'yes, but where is the rescue package?'. Yet again, our profession is divided.

This report is clever politicking. The government can, via NHS England, tell the nation that it is saving general practice at a time when under massive pressure due to the junior doctor strike. The RCGP has welcomed the report as our official professional body. But is it really doing what it says on the tin?

My four-year-old could tell you that the math don’t add up. The money is going to have to come out of the £8bn already promised to the NHS. Which is on top of the £22bn savings that have to be found. The £2.4bn will only take us back to LESS than the 2010 levels of funding for general practice and we will have to work harder, pay more staff and try to get hold of that money via complex processes.

GP Forward View: full coverage

There is a £322m primary medical care allocation mentioned for 2016/17. Isn’t this what we had already been told we were getting, so this is rebadging of money we have already been given? CCGs have no spare money, many are overspent and/or having to prop up secondary care trusts, so I am not sure how they are supposed to find £171m for the transformation fund.

We don’t have enough GPs. Is this plan going to make GPs soon-to-retire decide to stay on? I am not so sure it will. What will change to make their lives better in the next year? Nothing I can see. Will returners return? Perhaps, there may be more money for them.

Will locums be happy? No, there is to be a suggested cap on locum fees and practices will be obliged to report what they are paying, according to the report. What would have helped? Putting more money into GPs surgeries directly, to enable them to plan their staffing levels and ensure working conditions are as good as they can be.

General practice at scale

As expected, this plan is based around working 'at scale' and all the perceived benefits that will bring. Yes, there are definitely some, but a great deal of this money is being spent facilitating this change. GPs don’t have time to wee, let alone plan new ventures. Some vanguard sites are doing well, others are floundering. It's not a panacea for general practice and I worry that the authors of this report are forgetting the importance of smaller, well-run surgeries.

This plan is very short on detail and immediate detailed plans are what we need, otherwise there won’t be a general practice to fund in five years' time. What might have helped more? Increasing the global sum tomorrow and putting that money directly into practices who have time and time again proven that they are efficient, adaptable and can rise to any challenge set to them. Ensuring that indemnity is sorted out now, not a promise to do so in the future.

I really wanted to like this report, I have been waiting for it for long enough. Sadly, it has entirely lived up to my expectations.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Oedema - red flag symptoms

Oedema - red flag symptoms

Red flag symptoms to be aware of when a patient presents with pitting or non-pitting...

Nine in 10 doctors fear NHS staff crisis could force them into mistakes

Nine in 10 doctors fear NHS staff crisis could force them into mistakes

Nine in 10 doctors fear a 'toxic combination' of rising workload and understaffing...

Proportion of GP practices with over 20,000 patients triples in five years

Proportion of GP practices with over 20,000 patients triples in five years

The proportion of GP practices in England with over 20,000 patients has more than...

Government's 'Yellowhammer' plan for no-deal Brexit confirms NHS fears

Government's 'Yellowhammer' plan for no-deal Brexit confirms NHS fears

Medicine shortages and an even tougher winter than usual lie ahead for the NHS should...

How GP trainee numbers in England have soared over the past decade

How GP trainee numbers in England have soared over the past decade

With serious concerns over the falling full-time equivalent (FTE) GP workforce in...

DHSC could shelve pension flexibility plans if Treasury overhauls annual allowance

DHSC could shelve pension flexibility plans if Treasury overhauls annual allowance

Plans to create the 'most flexible NHS pensions ever' could be shelved if the Treasury...