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Put Patients First: Back General Practice Campaign

The Put patients first: Back general practice campaign is demanding that the governments of the UK increase
funding for general practice from an historic low of 8.39% to 11% of the UK NHS budget by 2017.

What’s the problem?

General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS – dealing with 90 per cent of all patient contacts. Patients value general practice very highly, and rank GPs as one of the most trusted of all professions.

But general practice is reaching breaking point. Ballooning workloads, declining resources and an overstretched workforce are placing a huge strain on services that remain the primary point of access to NHS care for millions of people. 

More and more patients are coming to see their GP as a result of an increasing population and the health challenges we face, in particular the growing number of people living with one or more long term conditions. Despite this, the amount of funding for general practice is shrinking, both in real terms and as a proportion of total NHS expenditure.

Between 2005-2006 and 2011-2012, the percentage share of the NHS budget spent on general practice across England, Scotland and Wales fell from 10.75 to 8.4% – a historic low. When Northern Ireland is factored in, the percentage share of the NHS budget spent on general practice across the UK has fallen as low as 8.39%.

This is bad news for patients, who face the possibility of longer waits for appointments, fewer services and more difficulty in getting to see the GP of their choice. It is also bad news for the NHS as a whole – if general practice is not adequately resourced, more patients will end up receiving more expensive hospital care, leading to rapidly escalating healthcare costs.

What’s the solution?

Good access to high quality general practice is key to the future of the NHS. General practice leads to better and more cost-effective patient care, keeping people healthy for longer, enabling more people to successfully manage their conditions in the community, and avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

But general practice cannot do this without adequate resources.

We are calling for a UK wide increase in the share of funding that goes into general practice from 8.4% to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017. This investment will transform care for patients and benefit the NHS as a whole by alleviating pressure on our hospitals and providing cost effective care closer to home.

More resources will help support GPs to deliver consistent, high quality patient care and enhanced services, for example:

  • Shorter waiting times for appointments and more flexible opening hours
  • Longer consultations, especially for those with long term conditions
  • Improved care co-ordination and planning for the frail elderly and those with complex needs
  • The ability to access more services closer to home, without the need to travel to hospital.

Achieving these outcomes will require a substantial increase in the number of GPs, as well as other primary care professionals such as district nurses, and investment in better, more modern premises.

Find out how you can get involved and help us make this vision happen !

  • For a detailed explanation of why this campaign is so important to patient care, read our Campaign Brief [PDF].

  • Visit the RCGP website regarding the campaign by clicking here.