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NHS will not be saved by diverting funds, campaigners tell Streeting

THE NHS will not be saved by diverting funds or by increasing privatisation, health campaigners warned today.

New Health Secretary Wes Streeting was challenged after he pledged to “fix the front door” to the NHS and redirect funding from hospitals to GP surgeries earlier this week.

During a tour of the Abbey Medical Centre in London, Mr Streeting said that he will “reverse” the trend of GPs and primary care receiving a smaller proportion of NHS resources. 

Currently just 6 per cent of the NHS budget is guaranteed for general practice, according to the BMA.

Over 5 million patients a month are waiting longer than a fortnight for a GP appointment in England. 

Underfunding has contributed to the GP employment crisis in which practices have been unable to hire staff. 

But Mr Streeting has also pledged to go further than New Labour’s NHS privatisation policies.

He spoke at a conference hosted by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change on Tuesday about “ending the begging bowl culture” at the health department, saying that it is “no longer simply a public service department” but an “economic growth department.”

But EveryDoctor chief executive Dr Julia Patterson warned: “The NHS will not be saved by diverting funds or by increasing privatisation.

“It will be saved by listening to front-line staff, providing huge investment into the public service, and responding to the needs of millions of patients.”

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of GPC (General Practioners Committee) England at the British Medical Association, said: “We applaud Mr Streeting’s ambition to shift more NHS care into the community, but hospitals need funding just as desperately as general practice does.

“Hospitals are under extreme financial pressure, with many being left with no option but to implement recruitment freezes despite record waiting lists.

“Diverting money away from them isn’t solving the overall problem — the NHS as a whole needs to be properly resourced.” 

Co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public and retired consultant paediatrician Dr John Puntis said: “One obvious problem with a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ strategy is that hospitals are currently facing a very challenging financial situation with many having to think about cuts to staffing. 

“Just as for general practice, increased funding to the hospital sector will be crucial for bringing down waiting lists and improving public satisfaction with services.”

 

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