Editor Jaimie Kaffash says general practice needs funding as a matter of urgency to fix the ongoing recruitment crisis

Last week, I said that GP partners have a duty to spend funding on GPs when it is available. I stand by this – it is an unpalatable situation to have GPs out of work when there is so much burnout among those in work. It is also harmful for patient care for them to be treated by those less qualified unless it is absolutely necessary.

But our exclusive today, which features a leaked report from the practice at the centre of the row around redundancies, puts a new slant on the issue. It is scarcely believable, but the partners have been unable to take drawings for a year and the practice has been running at a loss.

I don’t want to get into a discussion around the practice itself. But this is not completely atypical. The BMA survey results reported this month found that GP contractor income had decreased by a fifth in a  year. A partner I just spoke to said it was now impossible to run a sustainable practice with less than a 20,000-patient list.

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. At a time of huge inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, according to the Government, general practice is completely immune to such pressures and a 2% funding uplift apparently suffices.

Now, I am sure that some elements of the media – and the Government – will shed no tears about GP partners not being able to draw income. But even they can’t ignore the absurdity of a situation where GPs are working until they are burnt out, patients aren’t able to get the care they need and there are a load of GPs sitting on their hands because apparently there is no work available. Topped off now by the news that GP partners trying to cope with all of this are effectively doing it for nothing’

This is shameful. I’ve always argued that it will be impossible to sort out the recruitment crisis with money alone. But that contention looks ridiculous now. More than a recruitment or employment crisis, we are in a funding crisis. The good news is there is a simple fix for that: money. You might not be able to magic up GPs, but the only thing stopping governments from finding funding is a lack of willing.

In an election year, it seems like a no brainer. Invest in general practice, and that will be a huge boost to the whole NHS. It’ll produce immediate results, with practices able to hire GPs, whether that be salaried or locums. Sadly, I feel ‘no brainer’ is too high a bar for this government.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @jkaffash or email him at [email protected]

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