GPC negotiator and premises expert Dr Peter Holden warned that the current primary care premises strategy was a ‘complete mess’.
He said that the NHS reforms could exacerbate the situation, because clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would be too small to take a strategic view on premises policy.
The NHS Commissioning Board, meanwhile, would be so large that premises would fall too low down its list of priorities, Dr Holden warned.
GP premises are around 40 years old on average and ‘very little’ has changed since a major BMA survey five years ago, Dr Holden said.
A £250m recurrent funding pledge from the DoH in primary care premises would generate an overall investment of around £2.5bn because of the private sector investment this would attract, he added.
‘That would be enough to renew half of the GP premises in the country,’ Dr Holden said.
‘If you want good primary care, you have to pay for everything that goes with it, including premises.
‘If the government is serious about saving money by moving care close to home, my view is that at the moment the policy will fail because there is nowhere to do the work.’
Dr Holden argued that investing now made sense financially.
‘At the moment, building is quite cheap – the industry is in the doldrums. Doing it now would be good value. But there would be no cost for five to six years, because the project time would be that long.’
He warned that if the government was only prepared to reimburse building projects funded by GPs, it ‘should not be surprised’ if development stopped.
Dr Holden added that the construction of Darzi centres had been ‘a big waste of money on the wrong thing in the wrong place’.