NHS chiefs in England have announced a five-year plan to help GP surgeries “get back on their feet” and to improve access for patients.
The rescue package will see an extra £2.4bn a year ploughed into services by 2020 – a rise of 14% once inflation is taken into account.
It will pay for 5,000 more GPs and extra staff to boost practices.
It comes after warnings from the profession that the future of general practice was at real risk.
Rising patient demand coupled with a squeeze in funding has led to patients facing longer waits for appointments and increasing difficulties getting through to their local surgeries.
Both the British Medical Association and Royal College of GPs have been increasingly vocal about the pressures over the past year.
Unveiling the GP strategy, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said he was “openly acknowledging” the problems and acting.
“GPs are by far the largest branch of British medicine and as a recent British Medical Journal headline put it – if general practice fails, the whole NHS fails.
“So if anyone 10 years ago had said, ‘Here’s what the NHS should now do – cut the share of funding for primary care and grow the number of hospital specialists three times faster than GPs,’ they’d have been laughed out of court.
“But looking back over a decade that’s exactly what’s happened. Now we need to act and this plan sets out exactly how.”
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Source:: BBC UK