Ministers insist GP Forward View 'on track' as MPs hit out over GP crisis

Plans to increase overall GP funding to more than £12bn by 2020/21 under the GP Forward View remain on track, health ministers have told MPs.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt and health minister David Mowat faced a series of questions from MPs on Tuesday on the GP crisis, with MPs from across the UK highlighting problems with recruitment, practice closures and underfunding.

Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley tabled a question during health questions in the House of Commons asking what steps the government was taking to ensure the GP Forward View (GPFV) had the funding needed to achieve its goals.

Mr Mowat told MPs that the GPFV had pledged to increase investment in general practice from £9.6bn in 2015/16 to more than £12bn in 2020/21.

GP funding

'This represents an increase of 14% in real terms,' he said. 'Which is almost double the increase for the rest of the NHS. Two years into the [NHS Five Year] Forward View, we remain on track to deliver that.'

Ms Turley said: 'The reality on the ground in areas such as Redcar and Teesside is that we face a deficit of £281m by 2020. How can he reassure my constituents, who are already finding it hard to get an appointment with a GP, that already scarce services will not become even more so?'

MPs from both sides of the House of Commons, serving constituencies across England, highlighted problems with GP recruitment and access to general practice.

Labour MP for Great Grimsby Melanie Onn warned that in her area: 'We have critical shortage of GPs and people are struggling to get appointments.'

Conservative MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone said: 'There is a shortage of GPs across Northamptonshire, especially in Kettering, and the age profile of local GPs means that a very large number are about to reach retirement, which will make the problem worse.'

GP crisis

Labour shadow health minister Julie Cooper said: 'GPs around the country are facing unprecedented pressures as they work to deliver the highest possible standards of care, despite underinvestment and increasing patient demand.

'A record number of GP practices closed in 2016. Is the government really serious about addressing the problem for the sake of GPs and their patients? If so, why has the promised £16m resilience fund not been delivered in full, when it was promised by October 2016?

'There is very little evidence to date of the government delivering on any of its promises in GP Forward View, no sign of the extra £2.4bn.'

Mr Hunt told MPs that during his time as health secretary 'real-terms investment in general practice has gone up by £700m or 8%, and we are planning to increase it by 14% - £2.4bn - over this parliament'. He said: 'A lot of extra money is going in, but I recognise that there are still a lot of pressures.'

Mr Hunt told the House of Commons that there was 'no evidence' of an increase in the number of doctors leaving the UK to work abroad, but highlighted his view that 'there should be some commitment' for NHS-trained doctors to work in the UK health service for a minimum period of time. An ongoing government consultation proposes that doctors could face five years' mandatory service.

Ministers also said that there was evidence that golden hello payments to attract trainees to underdoctored areas were working, and cited improvements to the GP retainer scheme and plans to boost the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020/21 among efforts to resolve the GP crisis.

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