GP funding slashed by £350 million since 2019 as patients left waiting weeks for an appointment

22 Jan 2024

EMBARGO: 00.01 Monday 22nd January

  • Funding for GP practices has seen a £350 million real terms cut in just four years

  • Average funding per GP patient has fallen by 7% in real terms to £165 a year, while worst hit areas have seen funding per patient slashed by 16%

  • 1.5 million patients waited four weeks or more for an appointment in November

  • Lib Dems warn it is “unforgivable” the government is slashing GP funding at time of rising demand 

Funding for GP practices has been slashed by £350 million in real terms since 2019, House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The analysis shows NHS funding for GP practices in England was 6.9% lower in 2022/23 compared to 2018/19, once inflation is taken into account. The average funding per patient was £165 in 2022/23, a real terms cut of £12 per patient over the past four years.

The Liberal Democrats said it was “unforgivable” that the government was slashing funding for GP practices at a time of rising demand, leaving millions of people struggling to see a doctor when they need to. 

The latest figures show that in November 2023, a staggering 1.5 million GP appointments took place four weeks or more after being booked, making up one in twenty (4.8%) of all appointments that month. 5.4 million people waited two weeks or more for the GP appointment in November, or over one in six (17.3%) appointments.

The research also shows that the impact of the real terms cuts to GP funding varies widely across different areas. North West London’s Integrated Care Board (ICB) was the worst hit with GP funding per patient slashed by 16.8% in real terms since 2019, or a fall of £28 per patient. This was more than double the average cut to GP funding across the country.

The other areas seeing the largest real terms cuts per patient were North Central London (14.4%) Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire (11.2%) and the Black Country and West Birmingham (10.3%).

The average funding per patient also varied widely per region. North Central London receives just £134 per patient, Frimley receives £141 and Surrey Heartlands £144, all well below the national average.

Overall, 40 of 42 ICB areas in the country have seen real terms GP funding per patient cut since 2019. Only two, Cornwall and Hampshire, had seen funding per patient increase.

The Liberal Democrats said the figures showed Rishi Sunak is out of touch with patients struggling to get the care they need. The party is calling for patients to be given a legal right to see their GP within seven days, or 24-hours if in urgent need. This would be achieved by increasing the number of fully qualified GPs by 8,000 with an initiative to boost recruitment and retain more experienced doctors.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

“It is unforgivable that the Conservative government has slashed funding for GP practices at a time of rising demand. Millions of people are being left anxious or waiting in pain because they can’t get an appointment with their GP. 

“The Conservative Party’s record on the NHS is one of total neglect and failure. Rishi Sunak is completely out of touch with patients struggling to get the care they need.

“Being able to see your GP when you need to should be the very cornerstone of the NHS. That is why the Liberal Democrats would give people a legal right to see their GP within seven days or 24-hours if in urgent need.”  


Notes to Editors:

The full data can be found here

House of Commons Library notes can be found here.

The latest NHS Digital figures on GP appointment wait times In November 2023 can be found here.




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