GPs' premises hopes dashed

Practices in Worcestershire have been warned that funding cuts may prevent their premises development schemes.

Nigel Higenbottam, assistant director of primary care at Worcestershire PCT, has warned local GPs that ‘significant' allocation cuts at PCT and SHA level have destabilised premises development plans.

The cuts are ‘due to the changing position from the DoH regarding central allocations', Mr Higenbottam warned in a forwarded message from Gillian Goodlad, Worcestershire PCT's director of primary care and modernisation.

‘This will mean a significant reduction in the allocations which SHAs and therefore PCTs can expect to receive,' she explained.

At Northumberland House surgery in Kidderminster, where GPs were expecting to link with GPs from Aylmer Lodge surgery to buy part of the site formerly occupied by Kidderminster District General Hospital, practice manager Don Beckett said the funding cut would break a guarantee made 18 months ago.

Doctors are running the Northumberland House surgery from converted semi-detached houses that allow only half the floor space needed, Mr Beckett explained. Doctors at Aylmer House surgery are cramped.

Worcestershire PCT chief executive Paul Bates said it still needs to decide ‘whether there is still a funding stream' to support ‘a range of ambitious and exciting premises redevelopment schemes' inherited from PCTs in the old West Midlands South SHA.

He admitted that some of the schemes are at an advanced stage but that the new PCT has to decide ‘whether they are affordable'.

But West Midlands SHA is being supportive according to Mr Bates ‘But it does not itself have a source of funds to facilitate the schemes,' he added.

MP and former consultant Dr Richard Taylor (Wyre Forest, Independent) said two practices in his constituency were hoping to move.

‘This is very bad news,' he said. ‘The two practices were really looking forward to expanding into much better premises on a hospital site which would have been a great benefit for them and their patients. This is disappointing.'

A DoH spokesman said premises funding was a local issue.

In a separate development, Pershore Medical Practice has moved out of a PCT-owned surgery into premises owned by Wychavon District Council, also in Worcestershire.

It is unclear whether a similar public finance initiative could help Kidderminster practices.

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