Reaction to £3.5bn funding for primary and community services

Commenting on the £3.5bn funding boost for primary and community services announced by the Prime Minister, Nuffield Trust Senior Policy Analyst Sally Gainsbury said:

“This additional money amounts to annual increases that are broadly in line with the 3.4% overall that the NHS in England is getting over the next five years.”

“That means that, far from representing a big shift in funding towards out-of-hospital services, this money will simply allow GPs and community services to keep up with demand over the next five years. That’s important, but it means the new money announced today is not going to lead to a significant change in the way that people experience healthcare.”

“In many ways this is unsurprising. There are many existing calls on the new money pledged by the Prime Minister, like getting waiting times back on track and upgrading mental health services. We’ve calculated this will leave relatively little for any significant reform over the next couple of years.”

“What’s more, even if this money did represent a major boost to primary and community services, there are serious questions about whether the NHS has the right staff in the right places to carry this out. ”

Cygnet Health Care CEO, Dr Tony Romero responded to the announcement:

“We welcome the Government’s proposed spending boost for primary and community healthcare, but it is vital that people with learning difficulties and mental health problems do not miss out on this £3.5 billion cash injection. The current lack of appropriate community-based provision for  people with learning difficulties and mental health problems across the country has caused huge pressure on acute in-patient mental health services and is currently under-providing for some of society’s most vulnerable people.  Without adequate community support people are again being caught in the revolving door syndrome that we saw in the 1990s when discharges and readmissions to hospital were at their height.

“For those who are chronically mentally ill the answer to providing the best treatment and care lies not in more acute hospital beds, but in rehabilitation within a community setting, which is where this £3.5billion is so urgently needed.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Any investment in patient care in the community is welcome – and it’s essential that general practice, specifically, is at the heart of these plans and a key recipient of this new funding.”

“The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrates recognition at the highest levels that a strong general practice service is central to the long-term sustainability of the NHS and patient care. It is an important step forward to meeting our calls for our service to receive 11% of the overall NHS England budget, and achieving some of the College’s aspirations for the future of general practice, particularly around providing a wider range of services in the community – but it certainly doesn’t go all the way.”

“GPs and our teams make more than a million patient contacts every single day. Our workload has increased substantially over the last decade, yet the share of the NHS England budget general practice receives is less, and the GP workforce has actually fallen.”

“As a result, GPs are working far beyond what is safe or sensible, working ever-increasing hours due to the rising volume and complexity of patient demand, and then facing a mountain of paperwork. It is relentless, and it isn’t safe for anyone involved.”

“This is why we are today urgently renewing our calls for general practice to receive 11% of the overall NHS budget as part of the forthcoming 10-year plan for the NHS. This would allow us more time to care for our patients who need it; a larger general practice workforce leading a wider range of healthcare professionals to deliver care tailored to our patients’ needs; and enhanced technology, so that GPs can broaden the range of consultation options for patients and enable seamless care throughout the NHS.”

“The forthcoming NHS long term plan is an opportunity to ensure general practice receives the investment it desperately needs, so that we can continue to deliver the care our patients deserve. We look forward to more details about the plans announced today, and how the long-term plan will increase funding for general practice over time, so that we can reach the necessary 11% of the overall NHS England budget as soon as possible.”

“Investing in general practice is investing in the entire NHS. It is an investment in good patient care.”