The former senior health administrator Lord Philip Hunt has suggested that a Labour government would not view the package of support for general practice as a ‘done deal’.
Labour ministers would instead wish to ‘re-examine’ both the GP Forward View rescue package launched last year, and the wider NHS Five Year Forward View, “to make sure that it is realistic”.
Extra funding for general practice was promised in the Labour manifesto, as part of a £37bn five-year investment package.
But Hunt stated a Labour government would want to ‘look afresh’ at current GP funding plans.
Hunt served as a health minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
And the esteemed individual indicated that there was “no guarantee” that the GP Forward View would actually deliver the promised funding increase, while the extended access requirements expected from GPs by the current system were a “fantasy”.
Just last week, the LMC conference voted to ballot the profession on a co-ordinated list-closure in protest at the GP Forward View failing to deliver necessary resources.
The package has been criticised by GPs for failing to deliver adequate funding to practices, with many considering the current situation in general practice to be little short of a crisis.
Yet the Nuffield Trust on Monday has suggested that although Labour has promised more money than either the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats, its spending plans will still represent cuts for the NHS overall.
“The NHS looks set to face a further five years of austerity, whoever forms the next government,” the trust asserted.
Hunt denied the claims of the Nuffield Trust, but also warned that the climate of the future would be tough for the health service.
Yet Labour is promising an important “immediate injection of funding” that amounted to £8bn a year including £2bn capital, according to Hunt.
“I’d much rather work with the profession on working out what are the needs of primary care and take it from there, rather than just pluck a figure out of the air. And we’re not going to just simply take the Forward View as kind of a done deal. I think the first thing we’d want to do is to re-examine it to make sure that it is realistic. We would want to look afresh. What you can be sure of is that we recognise…they have to invest more in primary care,” Hunt commented.
And the former health minister is also sceptical that the aims of the Forward View can actually be delivered practically.
“I can’t see how the NHS will make progress without a recasting of investments for GPs and primary care. And we are going to have to find funds with which to do it. But I don’t want to get hooked on a figure. I think it’s better for us to sit down with the profession. We’re clearly going to put the proportion up … in the overall context of more money for health.”