Top-level roundtable discussions were organised by the GPC to try to break the deadlock on premises, which BMA poll data show has left 40% of practices in inadequate facilities, undermining patient care and the strategy to move more services out of hospitals.
The talks on 10 July were opened by health minister Earl Howe and attended by representatives from the DH, NHS Employers, NHS Clinical Commissioners, NHS Property Services, Community Health Partnerships, the Primary Care Premises Forum, Lloyds and Aviva.
GPC lead premises negotiator Dr Peter Holden said everybody at the event was left asking where NHS England were after invited senior officials failed to show up or to send representatives.
‘My reaction was, that is feeble and pathetic when a minister of state is opening the meeting.’
Dr Holden said the failure to attend suggested NHS England was not taking the premises crisis seriously, despite recognition of the problem from the DH.
‘I was furious they didn't attend, because everybody else attended,' said Dr Holden. 'But NHS England have not got a good excuse for not being there and it was noted by a lot of people.’
He said NHS England was setting itself up for future problems by missing opportunities to enter talks over the future of premises.
Following the talks, the GPC is pushing for a multi-agency ‘task and finish group’ including lawyers, surveyors and developers, to draw up policy proposals to get more premises built. ‘Then, if the government fails to heed that expert advice, the government of the day has only itself to blame,' said Dr Holden.
GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said it was clear that ministers and senior NHS representatives ‘understand how this crisis is undermining patient care and GP services, and that it seriously threatens the government’s strategy of providing more care out of hospital settings’.
‘We will be calling for a task and finish group to ensure that solutions are found to ensure the GPs can provide care in fit for purpose premises to meet the expanding needs of patients in the community.’
NHS England has yet to comment.