'Grand plans' for London's NHS will fail without upfront support for GPs

Plans to overhaul primary care in London will fail unless GP practices are offered upfront funding to cope with existing pressure from soaring demand, Londonwide LMCs has warned.

Dr Michelle Drage: urgent need for funding (Photo: Londonwide LMCs)
Dr Michelle Drage: urgent need for funding (Photo: Londonwide LMCs)

Plans set out by NHS England's London region to rethink how services are delivered in the capital could see new contractual arrangements that would mean funding is no longer provided at individual practice level.

Instead, practices or providers would be funded in groups working across wider geographical areas, with shared QOF and enhanced service incentives. The plans also envision all practices opening on Saturday mornings, and other measures to increase access to GPs and primary care professionals.

Pressure on GPs

But Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said: 'Grand plans are all well and good, but plans alone don't deliver improved patient care or GP resilience. Each year in London the equivalent of fewer than 5,000 GPs handle over 50m consultations. We need over 1.5m more GP hours to deal with current demand, let alone new initiatives and schemes. Before promising increased access and schemes any workforce development has to first plug this gap just to maintain a safe service for patients.'

Dr Drage warned that to improve healthcare, the NHS should 'refocus the service on where all patients begin their NHS journey, in general practice'.

'We must work together as patients, providers and commissioners to allow GPs to truly become hubs for the health and social care of their local communities,' she said.

'We have seen massively increased demand at the doors of all our general practices as community, social and mental health services which used to support GPs have been dramatically reduced, and as we try to handle all the multiple conditions that accompany our diverse, often deprived, highly mobile and ageing society in the face of a diminishing workforce. To be meaningful and have an impact, finance must first be made available up-front to allow GPs to manage existing workload.'

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