GP premises in England could receive cash injection

GP premises in England could be in line for a much-needed cash injection after NHS Property Services Ltd revealed plans to draw up a capital investment programme this year.

Dr Ian Harper: primary care premises need rapid investment (photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Ian Harper: primary care premises need rapid investment (photo: Pete Hill)

But GP leaders warned funding must come quickly to support practices facing increasing pressure as work transfers out of hospitals.

NHS Property Services Ltd, which took over management of PCT-owned property on 1 April, revealed it is going through financial returns from NHS organisations to calculate how much funding could be made available.

Its director of asset management, Pamela Chapman, revealed the plans at a primary care premises conference earlier this month. But NHS Property Services has yet to reveal further details, including what proportion of any funding made available could go to primary care.

GP leaders fear that the money will take a long time to reach primary care because the company - which now has the legal title to 3,600 assets valued at around £5bn - is ‘a long way from consolidating the estate they have inherited from PCTs’.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We know NHS Property Services wants to design an investment programme eventually, but they are a long way from consolidating the estate they have inherited from PCTs so it will take time to do this. Their intention is to use the income from the sale of surplus land or buildings to reinvest in to property development elsewhere.

‘We're concerned that this is going to take time we can ill afford. Practices need urgent premises developments now to be able to meet current patient demands let alone prepare for the expected increase in activity in the future.’

Medical director of Surrey and Sussex LMCs Dr Ian Harper called for the money to be used to sign off more, and larger-scale, premises improvement grants. He argued that in the past three years only minor grants have been approved.

‘We want to see new investment in primary care, in new buildings and new improvement grants,’ he said. ‘In the area that we cover, there were improvement grants but they were made very late in the financial year and the funding was restricted to only include developments that would help practices with CQC registration.

‘Practices need to be able to expand. Any criteria for grants should be clear and transparent so that practices know whether they are in with a chance before they make the application.’

Family Doctor Association and Swindon GP Dr Peter Swinyard said: ‘I can’t see a vast amount coming into the coffers. We have needed it for ten years.

‘There are some premises that need extensions, some that need improvements and some that need knocking down and starting again. If you actually want to have healthcare delivered nearer to the patient then you are going to need investment in GP premises.’

When asked how much is needed for investment in premises, he said ‘how long is a piece of string?’

GPC lead negotiator on premises Dr Peter Holden has previously called for an annual investment of £250m a year from central government.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GPs report drop in older patients coming forward with cancer symptoms

GPs report drop in older patients coming forward with cancer symptoms

More than half of GPs say numbers of older patients coming forward with cancer symptoms...

Failure to involve GPs in COVID-19 test and trace 'a disaster and a national shame'

Failure to involve GPs in COVID-19 test and trace 'a disaster and a national shame'

GPs and primary care teams should have played a key role in the UK’s efforts to test,...

RCGP chair 'livid' over attacks on general practice from 'armchair critics'

RCGP chair 'livid' over attacks on general practice from 'armchair critics'

General practice has risen 'heroically' to unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19...

Remote GP consultations a 'lifeline for the NHS' during pandemic, says Hancock

Remote GP consultations a 'lifeline for the NHS' during pandemic, says Hancock

The rapid switch to remote GP consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic provided...

COVID-19 disrupted training for four in five doctors, GMC survey shows

COVID-19 disrupted training for four in five doctors, GMC survey shows

The vast majority of trainee doctors have seen their training disrupted or limited...

GP practices face losses 'in excess of £50,000' as COVID-19 hits income

GP practices face losses 'in excess of £50,000' as COVID-19 hits income

GP practices across England are facing a significant loss of income as COVID-19 dries...