GPs say they want a “clean break” from NHS England funding bureaucracy so they can have more freedom to improve patient care, and tackle shortages in their own ranks.
Grassroots lobbying group Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) argues the current system is unsustainable and does not give GPs enough flexibility on how and where they spend allocated budgets.
It said their hands are tied, as their funding is directed by NHS England though primary care networks (PCNs) – GP practices working together with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local area – with strict budget criteria.
The association is concerned that GP practices are not able to spend the money on extra doctors where they are needed. Its warning comes as a report published this week warned that up to half of GP posts could be vacant by the end of the decade.
Dr Lizzie Toberty, GP lead at DAUK, said: “Money that comes down from NHS England via the PCNs is very tightly controlled. It is not for GPs, nurses or new buildings, but only for other allied healthcare professionals. We’re told how much we can spend on a social prescriber or a pharmacist, but that might not be what your area needs.
“Areas within a one mile radius, never mind the whole of England, can have extremely different health population needs. Trying to stipulate from NHSE head office which type of staff can be employed in rural Lincolnshire or inner city Sunderland is ridiculous, yet it is what is happening. It’s extremely problematic.
“I’m concerned that non-doctor staff may not be able to perform GP roles to the same level of quality and effectiveness. Yes physician associates can have their role, and they are welcome additions to our over stretched teams, but as our patients are becoming more complex, you need doctors with breadth of training and experience in order to manage multiple conditions simultaneously.”
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