The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned that the ‘crisis’ in general practice will intensify if the pooling of health and social care resources, announced by Chancellor George Osbourne today, leads to money being diverted away from GP services.
As part of the Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that health budgets are to be ringfenced and has allocated £3 billion on commissioning services that integrate health and social care.
He also said that there will be a focus on removing automatic pay rises in the NHS, claiming that: "Progression pay can at best be described as antiquated; at worst, it's deeply unfair to other parts of the public sector who don't get it and to the private sector who have to pay for it."
Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, said: “We are relieved that the Chancellor has kept his promise of ringfencing the NHS budget and welcome the focus on integration between health and social care.
“We must now reach an agreement about how the money can be shared most fairly in the best interests of patients - but general practice must not lose out.
“A recent RCGP poll has shown that 85% of GPs think the profession is in crisis, and 49% say they can no longer guarantee safe patient care.
“As patients are living longer with complex and multiple conditions, GPs are facing ever-increasing demands and responsibilities whilst resources are decreasing, with concerning implications for patient care.
“General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and it is essential that our funding is increased for the benefit of patients and for the sustainability of the NHS."
Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King's Fund, said: "While the NHS budget remains protected, it is under intense pressure. The additional cuts in local government funding announced today will add to this, as well as increasing the strain on social care services."