Landmark RCGP report demands major GP investment

Major investment in general practice manpower, premises, technology and infrastructure is vital over the next decade to keep the NHS safe and sustainable for patients, a landmark RCGP report has warned.

Professor Clare Gerada: major investment in general practice needed
Professor Clare Gerada: major investment in general practice needed

The 2022 GP – a vision for general practice in the future NHS, calls for at least an extra 10,000 GPs by 2022, and warns the ‘current imbalance in funding, with GPs providing 90% of NHS care for only 9% of the NHS budget’ must be addressed.

The NHS needs more ‘generalist-led, integrated care’, and should develop ways to involve GP practice teams more in decisions in and out of hours, it says. More must be done to attract doctors into general practice and to revive morale.

Practices need support to federate, and contracts should change to facilitate joint working across health disciplines.

The report sets out six core aims for developing general practice:

  • Promote a greater understanding of generalist care and demonstrate its value to the health service.
  • Develop new generalist-led integrated services to deliver personalised, cost-effective care.
  • Expand the capacity of the general practice workforce to meet population and service needs.
  • Enhance the skills and flexibility of the general practice workforce to provide complex care.
  • Support the organisational development of community-based practices, teams and networks.
  • Increase community-based academic activity to improve effectiveness, research and quality.

RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: 'The NHS is changing, general practice is changing, patients are living longer with long-term and multiple conditions, and health inequalities are growing, so we must step up and meet the challenges ahead.

'This vision outlines ways in which to provide easier access to a more flexible and integrated system of primary care that will benefit our patients immensely. It maps out a way for patients to receive the best possible care in and out of hours from the start to the end of their lives.

'As GPs change, so must the role of patients and so it is important to promote healthy lifestyles, increase health literacy and encourage self-care as we move forward with limited resources and increasing demand for services.'

She added: 'Most importantly, none of this vision will become reality if we do not receive fairer investment for general practice. If GPs, who do 90% of NHS work for 9% of the budget, are not properly funded then much of this new vision will not be achievable.

'Innovation and reform are vital but must be underpinned by investment. The Government must recognise that general practice is the most cost effective way of providing care and act accordingly, by urgently reversing the real terms decline in the amount of money that general practice receives.'

The report follows an RCGP poll that found rising pressure had left 85% of GPs unable to guarantee safe care for their patients. Professor Gerada said the results showed general practice was ‘in a state of crisis’.

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