Speaking at the Londonwide LMCs conference on Tuesday GPC executive team member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni described premises as a ‘huge issue’.
He said the expansion of GP premises was ‘crucial’ to the implementation of the new GP contract, which includes plans to create primary care networks that will recruit 20,000 allied health professionals into the workforce - warning that the plans ‘won’t work if there is no space’.
His comments came in response to concerns raised by an audience member who said: ‘One of the major problems we’re facing in our area is having to house everyone. We do have teams that work across practices but there is no real estate… It is very costly and there doesn’t seem to be support for this moving as fast as the primary care networks are.’
Dr Kasaraneni admitted that he was also experiencing problems with his own practice premises. ‘I know the exact problems that you have. In my practice the only place I’ve got left now is a car park and a loo to put any extra staff in. We hot desk because we haven’t got any capacity.’
This comes just weeks after GP partnership review chair Dr Nigel Watson told GPonline that NHS England’s premises review - launched in 2018 - would be ‘critical’ to the success of primary care networks.
NHS England and the GPC agreed to carry out a review of GP premises policy to ensure that the system was 'fit for purpose both now and in the future' as part of the contract negotiations for 2018/19.
This includes a review of premises cost directions, which set out how premises costs incurred by practices are reimbursed and how other funding, such as for premises improvements, is delivered.
Dr Kasaraneni said he expected the premises review to be published ‘in the next few weeks’.
‘We don’t have an easy solution to this right now,’ he told the Londonwide LMCs conference. ‘The premises review has to come out acknowledging the fact that the direction of travel in general practice and in primary care is expansion of the team and we need space to do that. And if we sign off the premises cost directions, which have been crafted over the last three years, I’m hoping they will be the 2019 version… It has to be 2019 because this won’t work if there is no space.
‘I think that it’s a problem, I haven’t got a solution for you today but I think that it is crucial to expansion of the team to 20,000 extra people in general practice.’
The BMA has said the government must use the upcoming spending review urgently to invest in practice premises.
NHS England said that premises review was 'due to conclude shortly', however there is no timeframe for when its recommendations will be published.