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


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

BMA picket armband

Vast majority of GPs ready for industrial action, LMC poll suggests

More than three quarters of GPs and practice managers back industrial action - with...

Cow's Milk Allergy in Practice

Register for the Cow's Milk Allergy in Practice webinar series 2023

Join us for the 2023 Cow’s Milk Allergy in Practice series of webinars for healthcare...

GP at desk

GPs 'psychologically distressed' by COVID-19 pandemic, study shows

GPs were left ‘psychologically distressed and overwhelmed’ by working through the...

Opening letter

GPs could ignore £156,000 pay declaration after failure to update contracts

Many practices can ignore demands for GPs earning over £156,000 to declare their...


Join us face-to-face for PrimaryCareLearnings 2023

Returning for a second year, PrimaryCareLearnings is a full-day educational workshop...

Clinical Update Podcast

Save time and be greener with the Clinical Update podcast

The first episode of the new Clinical Update podcast from MIMS Learning tells you...