GPC demands huge investment in 'decaying' GP premises

Hundreds of millions of pounds must be invested in GP premises over the next decade for government plans to shift care out of hospital to succeed, the GPC has warned.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: demanding action on GP premises (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: demanding action on GP premises (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

On Friday, GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul wrote to GPs across the UK, urging every practice to complete a poll that will shape plans to tackle a premises crisis that has been ‘brushed under the carpet’.

The GPC will push for increased investment within the next year in ‘decaying’ primary care premises, and set out other steps the government can take to support practices.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul told GP results from the poll would inform a ‘high-level summit’ on 10 July with health minister Earl Howe and NHS England officials.

Click here to take part in the GPC poll

‘Premises are one of the key impediments to GPs being able to provide the services their patients need,’ Dr Nagpaul said.

‘Since before the new contract there has been no major investment, but there has been a massive escalation in the volume of care GPs are providing.’

Dr Nagpaul said the GPC would push for investment within the next year.

‘I would like to see some investment before the next LMCs conference. Our view is there is a need for some immediate investment, much of it at a small scale enabling practices to expand, provide an extra room.

‘We want a commitment to spend within the next year.’

Call for spending commitment

By autumn, the GPC plans to publish ‘a clear set of proposals’ on premises.

He told GP: ‘We are not going to talk just about money. Investment is a major part, but other things can hold practices back.’

Dr Nagpaul suggested other policy proposals would involve lease clauses with breaks, flexibilities around planning permission and support with loans.

‘We will come up with concrete proposals that the government could implement that would provide greater support for GPs to relocate or develop premises,’ he said.

The GPC chairman said many practices were in need of expansion and many were ‘decaying’.

‘For many, a small investment could reap huge benefits,’ he said. ‘Premises are part and parcel of investment to improve patient care.

Lack of concrete proposals

‘GP premises have just not been addressed - NHS England flagged the issue up in its ‘Call to Action’ report but there have been no concrete proposals.

‘We think this should be seen as a necessary investment. This is not optional if the government wants out-of-hospital care delivered.’

NHS England head of primary care commissioning Dr David Geddes said: ‘We recognise that good quality community-based premises will be required to deliver the ambitions for primary and community services - the issue is not being swept under the carpet.

‘Premises development needs to be a longer-term investment and it’s important that any development is aligned to the local vision for primary care and out-of-hospital services. I know that investment decisions have been difficult in the transition from primary care trusts. We are about to publish the principles of best practice, which will help area teams to align premises cases to the emerging local primary care strategy. 

‘We are also establishing a multi-agency working group to develop a strategic framework for primary care premises which will support the integrated care and delivery of primary care at scale.’

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