Exclusive: A polyclinic move 'will double practices' premises costs'

Moving into a polyclinic will more than double an average practice's premises costs, a GP investigation can reveal.

Dr Stewart Drage
Dr Stewart Drage

The policy could cost the NHS an extra quarter of a billion pounds every year.

A suburban four-GP practice currently receives rental reimbursement of around £100,000 a year. But premises expert John Hearle, chairman of surveyors Aitchinson Rafferty, says that comparisons with health centres built under NHS Lift suggests the practice's annual building costs could rise as high as £250,000 if it were to relocate to a polyclinic.

He credits this to higher administrative costs, facilities management fees, and investors' need for profit.

This means that NHS London's plan to create 150 polyclinics would add more than £140 million to the cost of London's health services every year. An extra polyclinic in every other PCT in England would mean another £114 million in premises costs.

‘I don't think there's any doubt polyclinics will be more expensive than traditional doctor's surgeries,' Mr Hearle added.

Who pays these extra costs will likely be a matter for negotiation between practices and PCTs. But they will be funded from the overall NHS budget, cutting funds for patient care.

GPC negotiator Dr Stewart Drage said practices could not be forced to foot the bill. ‘Our message to GPs is that, unless somebody else is paying, stick to your guns and stay put. There's nothing to force practices to move into polyclinics.'

But Mr Hearle's figures raise doubts about Lord Darzi's claim that polyclinics will save London £1.5 billion over the next decade.

A recent report on polyclinics from the influential King's Fund think tank, Under One Roof, warned that there was no evidence polyclinics would save money.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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