GP investment rose 3% in England last year, data reveal

Investment in general practice increased 3% last year in England, faster than the other three UK nations, official figures show.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: 'There is little evidence this money will be recurrent'
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: 'There is little evidence this money will be recurrent'

Data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show total general practice funding excluding drugs reimbursements increased from from £8bn to £8.3bn in England.

Wales saw the lowest funding increase in the UK, up just 0.52% to £440m. Investment in Scotland rose 1.02% to to £777m. General practice in Northern Ireland received a 2.13% increase to £251m.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the figures demonstrated yet again the ‘limited amount of NHS resources spent on general practice at a time when workload pressures on GPs are rapidly rising’.

GP funding rise

New funding worth £48.6m for the prime minister’s Challenge Fund access pilots was a major factor behind rising investment in England last year. GP leaders have previously criticsed the funding scheme because it does not benefit all practices and is not recurrent.

Dr Nagpaul said a limited rise in local funding shown in the data was ‘likely to be the result of the extra work done by practices on admission avoidance last year’. 

He added: ‘Unfortunately, there is little evidence that this money will be recurrent and enable GP practices to invest in long-term frontline patient care. It also remains unclear whether all this funding reached frontline patient services.’

‘As the EEQ [Earnings and Expenses Enquiry Report] figures published recently highlight, GP practices are also continuing to see their budgets squeezed by rising costs for utilities, building upkeep and vital staff such as receptionists and nurses. Expenses now amount to as much as two thirds of an average practice’s income. At the same time many practices are struggling from a combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and more care being moved into the community from hospitals.

‘We need politicians to address the fundamental long term funding pressures facing general practice and commit to a sustained period of investment that gives GP services the resources to meet the needs of patients.’

On Tuesday the health secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that general practice’s share of total NHS funding had fallen for three years consecutively leaving practices struggling.

Mr Hunt said the government 'would be mad' not to do something about the underinvesment in general practice and promised to write to practices after the government spending review to set new funding plans.

Key GP investment facts:

  • GMS practices in 2014/15 saw a 12% increase in global sum/MPIG funding from £2.1bn to £2.35bn.

  • PMS practices received a 2% funding increase to £2.14bn.

  • QOF funding fell 7% to £664m after 341 points were retired in contract negotiations. 

  • GP out-of-hours services saw a 4.4% funding increase in 2014/15 to £417m.

Photo: JH Lancy

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