Delays hit GP premises deals

Practice premises deals are falling through because of inaction by NHS England's area teams, GP leaders have warned.

LMCs have highlighted cases in which area teams have not given final sign-off to premises deals that were agreed before they replaced PCTs in April.

Some practices in desperate need of new premises could have been relocated by now if the deals had been completed, GPs say. But instead they face uncertainty, with some deals collapsing altogether.

In Nottinghamshire alone there are six deals hanging in the balance.

Meanwhile, Sandwell Council in the West Midlands has threatened to sell land worth several million pounds that had been earmarked for three GP practices unless NHS England approves the plans quickly.

GPC negotiator and premises lead Dr Peter Holden said that deals were falling through across the country.

'People need to remember, nothing is agreed until everything is signed off,' he said.

'A lot of people were led on by the outgoing PCT and now it seems, much like the scorched earth they left behind, their promises are worthless. If you want to develop premises, it costs money.

'We have told ministers until we are blue in the face that their proposals for the leftward shift of care will not happen until they invest in premises.'

Nottinghamshire LMC executive officer Dave Smith said practices are frustrated. 'The area team says its hands are tied. The practices are frustrated. They have been planning new premises,' he said. 'They would probably be on site now or looking forward to moving next year.'

An NHS England spokesman said its area teams were 'working with general practices on property plans received since April 2013 and those that have been handed over from the former PCTs'.

He added: 'If a GP practice wishes to expand or develop its property, it needs to apply to its area team which will consider the case based on affordability, strategic need and local priorities.'

Director of finance for NHS England in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, Alison Taylor, said: 'We are committed to ensuring that all patients have access to local, high-quality NHS GP services.'

The Sandwell schemes were 'at an early stage' and had not been through capital funding approval by predecessor NHS organisations, she said.

'We have contacted Sandwell Council to confirm that these three sites are still being considered for development, and have been submitted to NHS England's national office as local priorities.'

She said the area team was doing 'everything possible to advance the plans and similar ones nearby'.

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