Call to put primary and community services at core of health and care system

In a new report, The King’s Fund has called for the health and care system in England to be radically refocused to put primary and community care at its core to make it effective and sustainable.

The report authors argue that the failure to grow and invest in primary and community health and care services, despite successive governments stating a commitment to this agenda, is one of the most significant and long-running policy failures of the past 30 years.

Despite a huge rise in demand for primary and community care services, the proportion of Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spending on primary care has fallen (8.9% in 2015/16 to 8.1% in 2021/22). In 2021/22 the largest proportion of DHSC spending, £83.1 billion, went to acute hospitals, compared to £14.9 billion spent on primary care.

Read the report: Making care closer to home a reality

Our Director of NHS Services, Alastair Buxton, said:

“This report from The King’s Fund highlights one of the central issues that must be addressed for the future of the health and care system, and I was pleased to feed into the research process. MPs across all parties have recently been talking about a shift in focus onto primary care and prevention, but we agree that these words need to turn into action.

Last year, at our request, The King’s Fund worked with Nuffield Trust to set out how the community pharmacy sector could be transformed for the benefit of patients, the public, and the NHS. We have already begun using the Vision for Community Pharmacy as a tool to make sure politicians understand how to utilise the potential of pharmacy ahead of the upcoming General Election.”