South and North – The Southward Migration of GP Funding

Funding for GPs is set to increase across the Country. However the NHS has announced that London will receive an additional 5.8% increase in its proportionate share. Cumbria and the North East will see its proportionate share fall by 3.8% as a result of a 14% increase in funding as compared to London which will see a 22.7% increase over the next 6 years.

The perceived effect of such a split in funding will be that CCGs and GPs in the North East and Cumbria will find it increasingly difficult to comply with NHS England’s requirements to fulfil the objectives set out in the Five Year Forward Views.

The more remote areas of our regions are being hit especially hard, where GPs are already working immensely hard over very large areas.

As Cumbria LMC secretary Peter Higgins has said:

In those environments primary care provides more services than it would in central London, it’s not so easy for people to pop to A&E or an outpatient appointment. And general practice is a much richer environment, but there are more pressures on practices to deal with things that would otherwise go to hospitals. So the formula should be going the other way.

The traditional formula for allocation of GP funding takes into account factors such as population growth and historic financial performance. It must be said that Cumbria and the North East has the highest per capita funding however this reflects list sizes and geographical spread of GP practices in these regions. The formula is currently under review by NHS England and it is considering whether or not to make changes to the formula to better account for the increased workload seen in socially disadvantaged areas. Such a change could certainly benefit many of the outlying regions of England.

NHS England has acknowledged that GPs are the forefront of NHS services. This is emphasised by the prominence given to Multispecialty Community Providers and Primary and Acute Care Systems in the Five Year Forward View. As the integration of primary care continues and healthcare professionals continue to keep a keen eye on the progress of the vanguards, the GP community is united in the certainty that the funding increases are insufficient.

GPC deputy chair, Dr Richard Vautry, has said GP practices are struggling across the country and it is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver a safe and sustainable service:

To shift resources from one underfunded area in England to another is simply to rob Peter to pay Paul, and will make matters worse not better. We need significant funding investment into general practice, not more tinkering at the edges.

If you require any further information, one of our team of healthcare specialist lawyers would be pleased to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time

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