GP leaders to meet Lord Howe in bid to break premises funding deadlock

GP leaders will bid to break the deadlock over investment in primary care premises at a high level summit with health minister Lord Howe this week.

Dr Peter Holden: government is listening (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Peter Holden: government is listening (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

Senior civil servants, industry figures, BMA leaders and the health minister will meet on Thursday, with the GPC set to reiterate calls for a huge investment to improve primary care premises.

GPC negotiator and premises lead Dr Peter Holden told GP ahead of the meeting: ‘I think the government is now listening.

‘People realise premises are one of the biggest limiting factors in moving care out of hospital, but also in delivering care for patients.

'Start talking about surgeries'

‘This is really bringing it to an absolute focus – we need to start talking about surgeries.’

Dr Holden said most practices ‘don’t need a large, £5m ribbon-cutting opportunity’.

‘Most need between £300,000 and 500,000 and a few extra rooms,’ he said.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said last month that the GPC would press not only for investment, but other policies to support premises improvement, such as lease clauses with breaks, flexibilities around planning permission and support with loans.

Practice capacity is inadequate

Without improvement in premises, Dr Holden warned, many practices simply ‘don’t have the physical capacity to offer the care we want’.

He added: ‘If you want to move work out of hospitals, we have to have somewhere to practise. We are hot-desking like mad.’

Dr Holden said the summit was a chance to ‘stop the ping pong’ between NHS organisations over who was responsible for securing improvements to GP premises. ‘This is the first time we have ever got all the interested parties round the table, he said. ‘In the new, devolved NHS, you talk to one and they say it’s the other’s responsibility. We’re trying to stop the ping pong.’

Dr Holden called for an ‘honest discussion on rent reimbursement’ as part of the talks.

The GPC has warned in recent years that the average age of GP premises is 40 years old, and called for investment of around £250m per year to improve surgeries.

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