The NHS confederation has labelled the Government’s commitments to health over the election process nothing more than “a pipedream”, when unsupported by investment in primary care.
The Conservatives pledged to create an extra 50 million GP appointments during their General Election campaign last year, as well as improving NHS performance, increasing access to services away from hospitals, and establishing 6,000 extra primary care professionals, on top of the 20,000 already committed to in the NHS Long Term Plan.
However, the NHS Confederation now warns that after talking to clinical directors, mainly GPs, that primary care is not being given the time, support and funding it needs.
As a result, the pledges “may not materialise”, and nearly half (48%) of Primary Care Networks said they are even confused about the funding available to them and how it is allocated.
Further to the findings, one in two (51%) of clinical directors who responded to the survey said that this is their first leadership role, perhaps alluding to why almost half (48%) of respondents said without dedicated management support for Primary Care Networks, clinical directors will continue to be overburdened and unable to progress at the pace expected.
The Government plans were “ambitions”, according to Ruth Rankine, development director for primary care networks at the NHS Confederation, who went on to say “this vision is at risk of being nothing more than a pipedream because the fundamental building block for this transformation has not been given appropriate time and investment.”
She continued: “It has been only six months since Primary Care Networks have set up across England and despite the huge potential, there is overwhelming concern that they are far from prepared or resourced to deliver what is being expected of them.
“In particular, clinical directors have told us that they need more time, more support from their local systems, and greater clarity around funding for what is being asked of them.”
Primary Care Networks were set up in July 2019 to transform how primary care is delivered locally. They involve general practices working together and with community health services in areas covering populations of 30,000 to 50,000, to pool their resources and access additional funding that will then allow them to provide new services, such as in community pharmacy, physiotherapy and social prescribing using multidisciplinary teams.