Stevens must take on politicians and hospitals to boost GP funding, says GP leader

Simon Stevens will have to take on politicians as well as hospital trusts to shift resources into primary care, a GP leader has warned.

Dr Brian Balmer: funding warning (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Brian Balmer: funding warning (Photo: JH Lancy)

GPC negotiator Dr Brian Balmer was responding to comments by the NHS England chief executive to GP last week. Mr Stevens suggested he would not allow secondary care trusts to block the necessary transfer of resources into primary care.

Dr Balmer welcomed Mr Stevens’ intentions but warned: ‘If you want to take on acute trusts you also have to take on the politicians.’

Hospital trusts, he said, would ‘run screaming to the politicians, like they do about A&E’, warning that hospitals faced collapse if funding was shifted.

NHS funding squeeze

Dr Balmer said: ‘Until you solve that there is going to be a problem, because the hospitals are pushed for cash as well. I'm not attacking the hospitals. They are very short of money in some places. To say we are going to put more resources into the community when the entire service is squeezed and the politicians will always run to save the hospitals: well, good luck to him.’

CCGs already face pressure from acute trusts and politicians to save hospitals, said Dr Balmer. ‘CCGs are putting pressure on primary care to do more work so that the hospital can survive, and that is not what Simon Stevens is saying.’

He added: ‘Unless you have enough resources to play around with you can't feed both ends. I wish him luck. I think his intentions are good. I'll wait and see.’

Speaking exclusively to GP last week, Mr Stevens said new NHS funding had been going into the expensive parts of the service because of hospitals’ failure to recognise the rising demand on general practice.

‘There are some difficult decisions here,’ said Mr Stevens, ‘and some of the big teaching hospitals are not happy with the decisions that have been made for 2015/16 to use more of the money in primary care and in mental health than has been the case in the past.’

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