Primary Care Experts Warn on Vital Investment Needs

Primary care experts have warned that investment in general practice should be considered absolutely requisite, considering the damage that has been done by years of underinvestment.

In particular, executing the sustainability and transformation programme adequately is absolutely dependent on sufficient monies being proffered.

Academics from Sheffield and Glasgow warned that general practice is “stretched to its limit”.

Should the authorities fail to invest strongly in the NHS system, the ongoing sustainability and transformation programme will simply be untenable, so the experts assert.

The comments of the academics in question have been published in the British Journal of General Practitioners.

In the authoritative publication, it is suggested that the pledge of the GP Forward View to increase annual investment in general practice in England by £2.4 billion annually by the end of the decade represents an important statement to GPs of their overall value.

Yet the article goes on to suggest that this is wholly inadequate in and of itself, particularly considering the ambitious sustainability and transformation plans of the government.

And the academics also assert that additional investment is required urgently at frontline services.

This correlates with the comments of GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who warned previously that general practice is underfunded by billions of pounds.

And research published by Glasgow public health consultant Helene Irvine found that systematic underfunding of general practice is actually driving up the NHS deficit, rather than assisting with the financial position of the health service.

This is largely due to the fact that one night in hospital costs approximately three times the level of expenditure on primary care.

“It is in these ‘deep end’ practices where significantly more people present with multiple health conditions, and where multimorbidity develops at a much younger age. Decisions about funding and investment should address the fact that current funding formulae inadequately recognise this greater need,” the authors assert.

Add the article goes on to suggest how the present system could be improved.

“We therefore propose that a ‘sustainability imperative’ is that appropriate transformation funds are channelled into addressing inequities in provision of general practice and ensuring that a co-ordinated, fully-functioning general practice service is available to all.”

Concluding its criticism of the way that the government has funded general practice, the article goes on to highlight warnings issued by the Royal College of general practitioners.

These addressed the failings of several sustainability and transformation regions to address the crises in general practice.

The college has already criticised many of the STP plans being implemented in the NHS system, owing to their inability to address sustainability and workforce issues in general practice.


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