A report by former Labour health minister Lord Ara Darzi calls for the ‘greatest investment in London’s general practice since the NHS was founded in 1948’.
‘London needs a £1 billion programme over the next five years to rebuild or refurbish every GP practice in the capital,’ the report says.
Practices would be expected to open longer in return for the investment - ambitions for London listed in the report include 'general practice in London to be open 8am to 8pm'.
In a foreword to the report, Lord Darzi, now chairman of the London Health Commission set up by mayor Boris Johnson, warned that ‘all of us should be ashamed at the state of many of London’s GP practices’.
Three quarters of London practices need repair
A ‘staggering three quarters’ are in need of rebuild or repair, the former minister warned in his Better health for all report.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey backed the call for investment, but warned that crumbling premises were not just ‘a London issue’.
‘The report has a London focus, but you can replicate the same issues across the UK,’ said Dr Vautrey.
‘This has to be addressed by NHS England. If we don’t have the premises to deliver care in the community their whole strategy falls apart.’
Dr Vautrey said it was difficult to put a figure on the investment required across England or UK-wide to improve GP premises.
£5bn demand for England
But if £1bn is needed for London, the figure should be £5bn for England alone, he told GP.
‘There has been next to no investment in general practice development for decades. We are paying for that lack of investment.’
Lord Darzi called in the report for CCGs to lead planning and design of new GP facilities and better integration with the rest of the health and care system.
‘That figure – £1 billion – sounds like a vast amount of money,’ he wrote. ‘Yet it represents just 4% of total capital spending in the NHS over the next five years, and 26% of anticipated capital spending in London.
‘That still means 74% of the capital budget or some £2.8 billion will be invested in hospitals and other care facilities.
‘Modern, accessible, purpose-built or purpose-designed facilities will cost more to run, too. And so the capital investment must be met with a commitment to increase the proportion of total NHS expenditure dedicated to primary medical care rising for each of the next five years. This is how we should match words to action.’