GPs to link with job centres under £1bn infrastructure plan

GPs will be encouraged to join up with job centres and social services under £1bn primary care infrastructure plans set out by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt: £1bn GP funding plan (Photo: JH Lancy)

In a statement in response to NHS England’s Five Year Forward View blueprint for the health service, Mr Hunt told the House of Commons yesterday how new NHS funding for primary care improvements will be spent.

Around £2bn of funding to be identified by the chancellor in Wednesday's autumn statement will be spent on frontline NHS services across the UK.

Around £1bn over four years will be invested in primary and community care infrastructure, said Mr Hunt. The money, taken in fines from banks, will pay for ‘new surgeries and community care facilities in the places where people most want them: near their own homes and families’, Mr Hunt told MPs.

New primary care facilities

‘These new primary care facilities will also be encouraged to join up closely with local job centres, social services and other community services.’

In addition, £200m will be spent on piloting new models of care set out in the NHS in England’s Forward View. The Forward View set out new models to reconfigure GP services alongside community or secondary care.

Mr Hunt said: ‘This will help to improve primary care premises and facilities, and I know there is an urgent need to upgrade a number of GP surgeries and primary care facilities. But it isn't, essentially, about buildings. It is about new models of care. And the big change we need to see over the next five years is a change in the role of GPs where they have the capacity and the desire to take proactive responsibility, particularly for the most vulnerable people on their lists: the people with long-term conditions.

'And to do that they do need better facilities, bigger facilities, more diagnostic tests in their surgeries, and I think this will make a big difference.’

CCG public health role

Mr Hunt also announced plans to hand powers to commission public health services to CCGs. 'The NHS will therefore take the first steps towards true population health commissioning, with care provided by accountable care organisations,' he said.

CCGs will also be given indicative multi-year budgets after the next spending review.

Earlier the Treasury said there would be £1.3bn of new funding from departmental underspends, and another £700m from the existing DH back office budget. The funding will be subject to the Barnett formula for the devolved nations with £300m for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Hunt said £1.5bn of this would be spent on additional frontline activity in the acute sector.

Fear of crisis

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the new funding would not address pressure on the NHS today and would not prevent the service tipping into crisis.

Labour said it would match the government spending as well as fund an additional £2.5bn a year for the NHS from a mansion tax, tobacco profit levy and tax avoidance crackdown.

Mr Burnham said much of the new money would be funded from cuts within DH and other departments which was a false economy. ‘The NHS cannot be seen in isolation from other services,' he said. The shadow health secretary said everyone was ‘finding it harder and harder to see a GP’.

Most of the new money, he said, would be spent on patching up problems this government had created, ‘leaving less than a quarter for the new models of care outlined in the Forward View’.

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