GP share of NHS funding in England drops to 7.1%

The share of NHS spending in England allocated to GPs will drop to 7.1% in 2018/19 following a £2.14bn hike to the funding uplift for the health service for the coming financial year.

GP funding share drops (Photo: JH Lancy)
GP funding share drops (Photo: JH Lancy)

NHS England board papers confirm that general practice funding will rise as planned by 4% in 2018/19, up £319m to a total of £8.127bn.

GP funding represents just 7.1% of the total £113.94bn NHS England budget for 2018/19 - down from the 7.3% share it received in 2017/18.

The drop comes after the government agreed to increase the overall NHS England budget by £2.14bn more than it had previously planned. NHS England's budget was originally planned to rise by £2.5bn in 2018/19, but this has been bolstered by £1.6bn announced in the government's autumn budget, and a further £540m made available since then by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

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General practice, however, is the only NHS 'commissioning stream' that has not seen its planned 2018/19 uplift increased by the additional funding injected into the health service.

More than £1bn of the extra £2.14bn has been allocated to 'sustainability funds' for CCGs and hospitals struggling with deficits, CCG funding has increased by £600m more than planned, while the rest has gone to specialised services and other directly commissioned services or NHS England funding streams.

Under original plans set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View, general practice funding looked set to rise to a 7.7% share of overall NHS England spending by the end of the decade.

Board papers for the 8 February meeting of NHS England's leaders say: 'The planned 2018/19 allocation for general practice has been maintained to enable the expected cost uplifts in the 2018/19 GP contract to be funded, as well as the funding commitments set out in the GP Forward View on extended access and investment in estates and technology.'

GP funding

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'Our annual assessment of the investment into general practice is based on the NHS Digital investment report and we'll be looking closely at the next one in September to assess the reality of funding in to general practice.

'However any other data that suggests that the percentage investment into general practice as a share of NHS funding is falling is very worrying. It's no surprise then that practices are struggling with workload pressures to the extent that they are and patients are being put at risk of being treated by burnt out practitioners.'

Dr Vautrey said the BMA would make its case to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) on pay and expenses. DHSC evidence to the DDRB, published last month, highlighted a series of key factors driving the crisis in general practice.

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