A good part of the increase in GP spending is inflation-related, though there will be a significant increase in real terms. And some of the increase is impossible to quantify at this stage because the government are asking their new and powerful Care Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to direct some of their spending towards General Practice. This is all part of the planned 7-day a week service so beloved of the current Conservative government. So the CCGs will try to fund evening and weekend capacity at GP practices which is leading to much tough negotiation and inevitably a lot of regional variation.
One area where people are most positive about GPs and the NHS as a whole is that it is free. Along with appreciation for the range of care offered and the quality of care, people surveyed say that “free at the point of use” is one of their top three “likes”. Of course a very high percentage of the population use exclusively free medical care – only 1.5% of health spending in the UK is private. This is one of the lowest private health sectors in Europe and is a great contrast to the US where about half of healthcare spending is private. But the Americans also spend a lot more on health than we Europeans. They have a higher GDP per person but even measured as a percentage of GDP the Americans spend 16% on health while the UK spends between 8 and 9% of GDP, which of course means over 20% of all tax receipts.
So more will be spent on GP services but not vastly more and some of it will come through the local care Commissioning Groups to encourage the development of a 7-day health service. It will be interesting to see how this affects people’s satisfaction and indeed their health. At the moment GP practices receive a fixed lump of about £70 per patient per year which seems cheap for those who visit their GP practice regularly but expensive for those who hardly ever need medical help – but this is the nature of a publicly funded health insurance model.