GP underfunding reflects 'historical contempt' for primary care, warns outgoing NHS Alliance chair

Persistent underfunding of NHS general practice reflects a 'deep, continuing and historical contempt for primary care', the outgoing NHS Alliance chairman has warned.

Devon GP Dr Michael Dixon attacked the ‘utterly unbelievable’ NHS focus on secondary care, citing its domination of leadership positions and the closing ratio of specialists to GPs in a speech to mark his retirement.

Primary care has lost 25% of its share of overall NHS funding over the past decade, and Dr Dixon claimed that some money intended for general practice was diverted to cover up financial deficits in secondary care.

GP funding

‘General practice has already carried a disproportionate share of austerity at a time when it has been expected to extend its role,’ he warned. ‘Hospital deficits were eventually paid off. You can’t have deficits in general practice - practices simply go bust.’

People with secondary care backgrounds take ’all the top positions’ in health within the NHS and government, Dr Dixon said. There was no primary care clinical voice in these key positions, which ‘represents a deep, continuing and historical contempt for primary care,’ he argued.

Senior NHS figures attended the address to mark the end of Dr Dixon’s 18 years as NHS Alliance chairman. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Dr Dixon for his contribution to the NHS and laid out plans for a greater emphasis on primary care. He said: ‘A lot of it is the Dixon plan. It’s the NHS plan. It’s the plan to put GPs at the heart of the transformation that we now want to happen.’

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