Health ministers have told the Commons that plans announced as part of the GP Forward View to increase GP funding to over £12 billion by the end of the decade are on course to be satisfied.
Jeremy Hunt and health minister David Mowat faced questions from MPs on the matter, with problems with recruitment, practice closures and underfunding all been highlighted.
Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley requested the Health Secretary to outline the steps that the government has taken in order to ensure that the GP Forward View had been adequately funded.
Mowat responded by stating that the GP Forward View had pledegd to increase investment in general practice from £9.6 billion to over £12 billion by 2020/21.
“This represents an increase of 14% in real terms. 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,” Mowat noted.
However, the aforementioned Turley suggested that the picture in some of the more deprived areas in England contrasts with this supposed funding.
“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?”
Other MPs also echoed this assertion, with Labour MP for Great Grimsby Melanie Onn warning that this region has a “critical shortage of GPs and people are struggling to get appointments”.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone concurred with the assertions of the opposition party members, stating that the situation in Northamptonshire is currently quite serious.
“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”.
And Labour shadow health minister Julie Cooper noted that the GP profession is dealing with a particularly challenging climate currently.
“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. 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”.
But the Health Secretary defended the Conservative party policy on NHS funding, suggesting that it had inflated significantly under his tutelage.
“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.”
Hunt also asserted that there is no current evidence pointing to an increase in the number of doctors leaving the UK to work abroad, despite reports indicating that many healthcare professionals from the Eurozone are considering their position following Brexit.