Figures released by Conservative health minister Dr Daniel Poulter revealed the amount spent on out-of-hours services in real terms had fallen from around £404m in 2009/10 to £369m in 2013/14. Spending fell by approximately 1% in cash terms.
Provider Urgent Health UK (UHUK) called for greater investment in out of hospital urgent care.
Dr Poulter added that the prime minister’s Challenge Fund was making £50m this year and £100m next year available to improve access to GPs.
Chief executive Dr John Horrocks said UHUK’s members were coping admirably with significantly increased pressures over the winter and helping ease the burden on emergency departments.
‘Out-of-hospital urgent care providers continue to operate as the most elastic part of the NHS, able to respond to spikes in patient demand at short notice,' he said.
‘However, UHUK members are also feeling the strain. I would call on NHS England and the DH to put out-of-hospital urgent care at the centre of any long-term solution to making the health service more sustainable in the long term.’
UHUK chairman Dr Simon Abrams added: ‘It is essential that out-of-hospital urgent care is given the appropriate attention and resources to allow this to continue over the coming months and years.’