Statistics revealing a decrease in NHS budget spending on general practice, now the lowest on record, is pushing services to "breaking point", according to the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
Commenting on the findings, Dr Maureen Baker said:
The various NHS bodies and governments who decide how we divide the NHS funding cake in the UK have inadvertently allowed a situation to develop in which funding for general practice is being steadily eroded. With services now at breaking point, it's time to come up with a plan to turn the tide.
During the last nine years, GPs across the country have had to cope with a growing and an ageing population, in which more and more people have been affected by multiple, serious long-term conditions - and yet funding for general practice has been slashed.
– Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Dr Maureen Baker
In England, 10.6 per cent of the NHS budget was spent on general practice in 2004/05, but this dropped to 8.5 per cent by 2011/12.
The statistics painted a similar picture in Scotland as 9.5 per cent of the money was spent on general practice in 2004/05, and by 2011/12, this had fallen to 7.8 per cent.
In the same periods across Wales, the budget decreased from 8.6 per cent to 7.8 per cent, and in Northern Ireland, spending was at 8.1 per cent in 2011/12 - down from 8.2 per cent in the previous year. Figures were not available for 2004/05.
Patient care is being put at risk due to a slump in the amount of NHS budget spent on general practice - now the lowest on record, a royal college has warned.
In 2004/05, 10.3% of the NHS budget was spent on general practice but by 2011/12 this figure had dropped to 8.4%, according to analysis by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the National Association for Patient Participation.
The RCGP said the slump is compromising the standard of care GPs can offer patients, leading to longer waiting times and increasing pressure on hospitals.
This is despite the fact that 90% of contacts with patients across the NHS occur in general practice, it said.