The latest data from NHS Digital reveal there were 58,492,541 patients registered at GP practices in England on 1 July 2017. There were 2,427,526 more registered patients on 1 July 2017 compared to (56,065,015 ) 1 July 2013. Yet, there has been an insufficient increase in funding for the NHS to cope with this increased demand.
But the government not only denies cuts in funding, it says funding for the NHS has increased. It is a disingenuous defence. Of course funding for the NHS has risen, and funding is continuing to grow but at historically low rates and it is insufficient for services to meet increasing needs, and the rate of growth is slowing.
The Department of Health budget will have grown by just 1.1 per cent in real terms between 2009/10 and 2020/21. This is far below the long-term average increases in health spending of approximately 4 per cent a year in real terms since the NHS was established.
The problem is made worse in primary care because GP practices are closing or merging - 200 have closed or merged in the last year.
Furthermore, the BMA (British Medical Association) which represents doctors in the UK has warned that these figures are just “the tip of the iceberg”. Many more practices are at risk of closure because of rising demand, workforce shortages, and financial pressure.
The Department of Health budget is set to increase by just 0.6 per cent on average each of the next three years. As a result there will be increasing pressure on the NHS as demand for services is continues to grow.