England and Wales eye Scottish-style contract deals on premises

GP leaders in England and Wales could follow the example set by the new Scottish contract deal to free general practice from responsibility for premises.

GP premises deals could copy Scotland (Photo: iStock)
GP premises deals could copy Scotland (Photo: iStock)

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey and BMA Wales chair Dr David Bailey have told GPonline that they are looking at the Scottish measures on premises with interest as contract talks for 2018/19 continue.

Under the new Scottish GP contract, which comes into effect in April 2018, all GP partners who own their premises will be offered interest-free 'GP sustainability loans' to help reduce costs. Practices in leased premises will have responsibility for their leases transferred to regional NHS boards.

The deal aims to spare all GPs from leasing premises from private landlords and to drive 'a long-term shift that gradually moves towards a model which does not presume GPs own their practice premises'.

Dr Vautrey told GPonline: 'I think it is very interesting. A novel way of gradually relieving practices of that responsibility for those that choose to do so.

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How Scotland's new GP contract takes premises burden off GPs

'It is not obligatory, so it’s not forcing practices or groups of GPs to do something they don’t want to do. But it may well suit some practices in some situations. I think it is something we would want to look at.'

The GPC chair said that circumstances in England were different, in that he felt it would be 'hard to imagine' CCGs taking on leases for practices in the way that health boards will in Scotland. Practices were unlikely to want their CCGs 'to have ownership of their building', he warned.

'But nevertheless having some shared responsibility, some risk sharing and reducing the assumption that a GP has to own some part of the building to be a GP - we wouldn’t expect a consultant to buy into the bricks and mortar of the hospital in which they work - so we really ought to be moving away from that as an expectation,' Dr Vautrey said.

'There will be some who want to maintain some form of ownership of their premises but there will be many who don’t want to do that and we need to recognise that and find a way to support GPs in different situations.

'One of the things I have talked about is that we need a fundamental review of premises within England and in the coming year it is something I would want to do a lot more on.'

BMA Wales chair Dr David Bailey told GPonline ahead of the Welsh LMCs conference last month that Wales would look 'with interest' at the proposed deal in Scotland.

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