Editorial: CCGs must unlock GP premises funding

The figures in our GP premises analysis make stark reading - primary care has been starved of serious premises investment for a decade and the GPC has estimated that £250m a year is needed.

The logic of moving healthcare services into the community (where patients prefer to be treated) and out of expensive hospital settings must surely be accepted by government, particularly if the NHS is to meet the Nicholson challenge to make savings of £20bn.

GP heard health secretary Jeremy Hunt speak at an NHS Clinical Commissioners meeting in London last week. He spoke of the government's desire for CCGs to have the autonomy to make local decisions for the benefit of patients in their communities and urged one CCG to 'be brave' when considering a bid by GPs to take back out-of-hours.

In our analysis, Londonwide LMCs director Dr Michelle Drage describes the huge benefits of shifting a tiny fraction of secondary care funding (85% of the NHS budget) to primary care.

Elsewhere, management consultants KPMG urge commissioners to work with NHS England's area teams to release premises funding for GPs.

At a time when the DH is devolving responsibilities to CCGs and urging them to have courage, GPs who wish to expand their premises to take on work coming out of hospitals must lobby those same CCGs.

The aim of giving GPs a leadership role in CCGs was that they would have the best insight about how care could be integrated, new clinical pathways could be created and work could move more easily out of hospitals into GP premises.

As our analysis points out, GP practices are bursting at the seams and suffering from a lack of serious investment. Now is the time for GPs who want to expand and take on more work to make their case to their CCGs.

Those CCGs that fail to take practices' bids seriously run the risk of perpetuating a potentially harmful 'business as usual' attitude at a time when even Mr Hunt is urging them to shoulder their responsibilities and be brave.

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