Salaries of expanded workforce would consume half of £3bn rise GPs need, MPs told

GP leaders set out the case for increasing the share of the overall NHS budget spent on general practice to 11% at a parliamentary inquiry into primary care on Wednesday.

MPs from the health select committee quizzed RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker and GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul over how any new funding would be spent.

Dr Baker defended the college’s demand that funding for the service increase as a share of NHS funding from 7% to 11%, an increase of £3.1bn a year by 2020.

The RCGP leader told MPs that around half that increase was required to fund salaries required to expand the workforce in line with the recommendations of the Roland review.

The other half, Dr Baker explained, would fund infrastructure expansion, IT and new patient services.

GP funding

'We need to be able to employ these people, put them somewhere and give them IT,' she told MPs. The shift from 8% to 11% should bring more care closer to patients homes with better quality services and better outcomes.

Dr Baker said the health services was stuck in the 20th century and GPs needed funding to ‘transform the way we work’.

Dr Nagpaul told MPs there was a ‘real need to expand the infrastructure estate’. ‘The movement of more integrated care into the community cannot occur unless there is investment,’ he warned.

Integrated multidisciplinary teams, he said, ‘cannot be housed in current GP surgeries'.

'They can only be housed in community estate,' Dr Nagpaul told the committee. 'So there needs to be real investment in infrastructure.’

Map: GP CQC ratings

Also appearing before the committee, CQC chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field told MPs that practices providing the worst quality services were worse than he had expected.

Professor Field told the health select committee he was ‘ashamed’ of the quality of services at some practices, and said inspectors were continuing to find GPs storing vaccines at the wrong temperatures in fridges.

Professor Field’s latest comments followed a storm of criticism earlier this week after the inspections boss told the Daily Mail that GPs had 'failed as a profession' because of the low standards in some practices. The RCGP warned at the time that the message that most practices were good or outstanding was not being publicised enough.

Professor Field said inspectors believe poor quality was linked to ‘professional isolation’ rather than practice size. ‘It’s the fact they don’t learn and share with others.'

There was a correlation, he said, between CQC ratings and the number of nurse sessions and use of other professionals. Better practices, he added, are more connected to other practices as well as local community services.

Photo: Ian Bottle

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