GP threat as NHS pools £3.8bn with social care

Government plans for a £3.8bn pooled budget to boost health and social care integration could divert funding from primary care and intensify the GP crisis, the RCGP has warned.

Spending review: 0.1% real terms rise for NHS
Spending review: 0.1% real terms rise for NHS

Total NHS funding is set to rise by 0.1% in real terms in 2015/16, with a cash rise of around £2bn, chancellor George Osborne announced on Wednesday.

But an amount equivalent to the entire increase will be diverted into the £3.8bn pooled fund to support joint working between the NHS and local authorities from 2015/16.

College chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada warned the move must not be allowed to divert funding from general practice at a time when the profession is ‘in crisis’.

She reiterated calls for a 10% increase to current general practice funding and 10,000 more GPs.

‘We are relieved that the chancellor has kept his promise of ring fencing the NHS budget and welcome the focus on integration between health and social care,’ she said.

 ‘We must now reach an agreement about how the money can be shared most fairly in the best interests of patients - but general practice must not lose out.’

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King's Fund, said: ‘While the NHS budget remains protected, it is under intense pressure. The additional cuts in local government funding announced today will add to this, as well as increasing the strain on social care services.’

He backed moves to boost joint working between the NHS and social care, but warned: ‘The flip side is that this will increase the strain on the NHS at a time when many hospitals are already struggling to reduce costs and absorb reductions in the prices paid for their services.’

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar added: ‘NHS organisations will want to have strong assurances that the money going to social care does the job it is meant to do.

‘Maintaining the ringfence for the NHS is vital, but it is important that the health service gets to spend what is allocated to it.

‘It is really important that the government explains to the public what it thinks the implications of today's announcement will be to our health services.’

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