Fifth of GP premises investments under £1bn government scheme face cancellation, BMA warns

One in five GP premises projects set up through the £1bn NHS transformation fund are at risk of cancellation and most face delays, a BMA poll suggests.

Dr Brian Balmer: delayed premises investment 'deeply worrying'
Dr Brian Balmer: delayed premises investment 'deeply worrying'

The BMA polled more than 200 practices that had bids approved in principle for funding from the government's primary care transformation fund, which promised £250m a year over four years to improve primary care infrastructure.

A total of 88% of practices reported a delay in implementing their scheme, with 54% reporting a delay of more than six months. Just over one in five (22%) practices said their area team had told them funding for their project would be withdrawn, the poll found.

Around three quarters of bids were for £500,000 in funding or less, the BMA poll found. Just 18% of respondents planned to build new premises with funding from the transformation fund, while 37% planned to extend their practice and 31% to improve existing premises.

Earlier polling by the BMA has shown how badly new premises funding is needed - 40% of practices say facilities at their premises are inadequate for patient care.

GP premises funding

Around one in five (22 percent) of those facing delays have now been told that their local NHS Area Teams might withdraw funding for their project.

GPC premises lead Dr Brian Balmer said: 'These results paint a depressing picture of a faltering programme of investment in GP practices which has so far failed to deliver the improvements promised by the government. Many GPs are being held back from delivering enough appointments and services to their patients because they are having to use inadequate and cramped buildings.

'Last year a BMA poll of 4,000 GP practices found that four out of 10 practices were struggling to provide even basic care due to poor facilities, while seven out of 10 felt they had no scope to expand the services they offered.

'It is deeply worrying that half of GP practices who have had bids approved are experiencing delays.

'The government announced the extra investment in GP facilities with a lot of fanfare, but on the ground many GPs are beginning to doubt these supposed improvements will ever be delivered. Ministers have to get a grip on the project and deliver what they have promised, otherwise patient care will continue to suffer.'

An NHS England spokesman said: 'The primary care transformation fund is a major four-year investment, not a quick fix and this small survey does not represent the full picture. The ambition and range of projects we have seen means some projects may take longer than expected but we are committed to supporting these projects next year, subject to approval. We are working hard to ensure that this funding delivers improved services for patients, not just now, but well into the future.'

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