Headlines: February 28th, 2001

Primary care is the poor relation of the health service is the conclusion of a report by the King’s Fund. Although over 90 per cent of all NHS care happens in the GP surgery or in people’s own homes, it does not receive a fair share of NHS resources. The report argues that this will not change until there is a major shift of power from hospitals to primary care groups.The report recognizes that progress has been made with the development of primary care groups in the place of GP fundholding. It also highlights the benefits for patients that follow from the introduction of salaried GP schemes in deprived areas and the phone in help line NHS Direct, but it claims that there is a danger that these initiatives will not reach their full potential until the fundamental imbalance between primary care services and hospitals is redressed.

The NHS Plan is criticized because it has earmarked the majority of new resources for hospitals rather than for GP surgeries or for services that visit people at home. The report claims that at a time of unprecedented new investment in the NHS as a whole, a valuable opportunity to boost primary care could be missed.

Link: www.kingsfund.org.uk