Will A General Practice Funding Boost Make A Difference?

An announcement of a £580m general practice funding boost has meant that NHS England looks on track to meet its target of £12bn of GP funding a year. The move has been welcomed by many, though GPs have their concerns, arguing that the funding increase isn’t enough. While a funding boost could mean improved services for patients and better provision for doctors, is it enough to make a difference to healthcare in England?

‘Ahead of target’ thanks to the latest general practice funding boost

NHS England has announced that it is ahead of its target to increase funding for GPs, with a £580m annual rise last year. The increase equates to 3.9%, taking GP funding to £10.8bn for 2017-2018. There have been year on year increases for the last five years, and if things continue in this vein, then the GP Forward View pledge looks set to reach its £12bn a year funding target by 2020.

The additional funding has meant that more trainee doctors are being recruited, while patients have better access to appointments. Meanwhile, the services offered by GP services will be better integrated with other departments such as community and mental health services.

Why GPs are concerned

The issue concerning GPs is that the funding isn’t fully invested in GP surgeries, but is also being used to fund drug reimbursements and A&E GP services. They argue that the money doesn’t reach GP surgeries, which are in need of upgraded IT, investment in out-of-hours services as well as emergency departments. While it’s acknowledged that a funding increase is a positive development, doctors argue that it is a misleading figure.

What are the problems faced by GPs?

GPs are concerned that the general practice funding boost won’t be enough to remedy problems encountered by GPs. The number of GPs is falling due to pressures to treat the one million patients requiring services each day. GPs also feel they have a lack of resources at their disposal, preventing them from carrying out their work effectively. This is leading to stress in the workplace, causing many GPs to seek other career paths.

The heavy patient load, together with the accompanying paperwork, can make GP work particularly stressful. As a solution, GPs might consider changing their working patterns and embarking on careers in out of hours services instead.

Out of hours roles have a lot of appeal for GPs. Patient care is focused on urgent appointments as opposed to continuing patient care, requiring little paperwork and a strong emphasis on diagnostics. The flexible working hours that come with out of hours working can be ideal for juggling family life, as well as provide a change of pace for GPs who are further along in their careers. Making the switch to out of hours could be a welcome solution, therefore, for those who are feeling harassed or disillusioned by their current career path.

For more information about the East Berkshire Out Of Hours Service, or to apply to become a GP for our organisation, take a look at our jobs page.