GPs face huge funding shortfall as chronic care costs soar £1.2bn by 2025, warns RCGP

Soaring rates of long-term conditions will drive up GPs' costs by £1.2bn over the next 10 years, the RCGP has warned.

Dr Maureen Baker: General practice investment is vital (Photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Maureen Baker: General practice investment is vital (Photo: Pete Hill)

The rise will leave general practice facing a huge shortfall in funding, because if current trends are maintained primary care will have to wait 65 years until it receives the same share of total NHS funding that it did a decade ago, the college said.

Speaking at the RCGP annual conference 2015 in Glasgow on Thursday, college chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker will hit out at the fact that most NHS money continues to go into hospital care, although treating long-term conditions is more cost-effective in general practice.

A total of 90% of patient contacts in the NHS take place in general practice, but just 8.3% of the health service budget goes to GPs. The college has demanded that this must rise to 11%, and that the GP workforce must grow by 10,000 - twice the government's current target for 2020.

GP funding

Dr Baker will argue that investment in primary care is the only option if the NHS is to tackle soaring rates of multi-morbidity, citing her own family's loss of close relatives in middle age as an example of how conditions that once ended lives prematurely now are survivable.

'It is a great testament to modern medicine that nowadays we are much more likely to prevent or treat diseases that in the past killed people so early in their lives,' said Dr Baker. 'GPs have played a pivotal role in this transformation.

'But this success has brought with it a whole new set of challenges to which the NHS is currently struggling to respond.

'We need an NHS that's properly set up to meet the complex clinical needs of people in the 21st century.

'We need an NHS that can achieve this in a cost-effective way, supporting people to stay out of hospital and live as independently as possible.

'And we need an NHS that is caring and person-centred, because we know that clinical need so often overlaps with psychological and social factors.

'We all know what this is - it's called general practice!'

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