AOP welcomes King’s Fund report calling for shift in funding to primary care

Report calls for national leaders to prioritise primary and community health and care services

A woman with her hair in a ponytail wearing a pink scarf and green jacket has her sight tested by a man wearing a white lab coat

The AOP has welcomed a King’s Fund report that calls for a “wholesale” shift in focus from hospitals to primary care.

The independent charity outlined how successive governments have said they will switch the focus from acute to community settings – but this vision has not yet been achieved.

“The failure to grow and invest in primary and community health and care services ranks as one of the most significant and long-running failures of policy and implementation in the NHS and social care for more than 30 years,” the report noted.

The Making care close to home a reality report noted that while it is not viable to reduce funding for acute hospital services, a higher proportion of future growth in funding and staffing levels should be directed towards primary care rather than acute settings.

AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, highlighted that the report is a reminder that the current health and care system in England is failing.

“The answer to the waiting list crisis in the NHS is not to ask for more from hospitals; it is time for a long-term funding commitment that puts primary and community services at the core of patient care,” he said.

Sampson shared that the report reveals imbalances in investment that need to be addressed.

“The current direction of travel – where the proportion of DHSC spending on primary care has actually fallen from 8.9% in 2015–16 to 8.1% in 2021–22 – must be reversed,” he said.

Sampson highlighted the role that optometrists can play in disease prevention and offering extended eye care services on the High Street.

“Optometrists are qualified healthcare professionals who, if commissioned to do more, can work alongside primary care peers in moving patient care closer to home,” he emphasised.