The group that represents GPs in Jersey says one of the island's universal benefits has been 'eroded' by a lack of funding.
The Primary Care Body has called on the government to contribute more to the cost of islanders' appointments.
For every patient visit, GP surgeries are given a rebate from the 'Health Insurance Fund', which is financed through our Social Security payments.
But the amount paid out by the government hasn't gone up since 2012, which the Primary Care Body says leaves patients having to pay a larger proportion of the doctor's fees.
It says overall States funding for GPs has fallen by 16.5% since 2015, with the Health Insurance Fund also being used to pay for other health projects.
"This year an additional sum of £11 million has been allocated to Health to address IT infrastructure. This is considerably more than the £8.6 million which was paid to support General Practice in 2019." - Dr Gordon Callander, Primary Care Body
The Primary Care Body says without the government giving 'immediate' support to GPs, Ministers' plans to reduce the reliance on the hospital and move more health services out into the community will be at risk.
Writing on behalf of GPs following a PCB members meeting, Dr Callader said:
"The right to affordable healthcare for all is well established and it is sad that one of Jersey’s universal benefits has been eroded.
General Practice retains a crucial role in the provision of healthcare. This appears to be much valued by our patients, but our place in the healthcare economy does not always seem to have been well understood by government. We have long pressed for increased funding to ensure the best value for patients and sustainability of GP practices with the ability to recruit and retain committed GPs, Practice Nurses, Health Care Assistants and the administrative staff necessary to achieve this, whilst improving our premises and infrastructure. We continue to provide high quality, safe and accessible healthcare. We are, therefore, well placed to support the Jersey Care Model and the possible changes in community care that the associated new hospital project and transition of services is likely to bring.
Whilst using the fund to resource the broad range of health services in the community reflects the evolution of healthcare, the current calls on the fund do not seem to reflect the need to establish and promote community services as a priority. Indeed, the funding of General Practice services under the Jersey Care Model has been pushed back for a likely period of 3 years. Without the immediate support of the government, the necessary community resources will not be in place in a timely manner, putting the implementation of the Jersey Care Model at risk."
The Primary Care Body says it is trying to engage with government, but an interim funding model it proposed was rejected in August 2020, and that evidence it submitted arguing for an increase in the rebate for GP consultations was dismissed in March of this year.
It has warned that the current political stance will 'sadly likely be reflected in increased patient fees'.