Premises shortfall 'may destroy GMS'

The government's lack of funding for GP premises, apart from the 250 APMS centres proposed by Lord Darzi, could destroy GMS practices in the long term, according to the GPC.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the government had forgotten that premises required continued investment.

'There will come a point when GMS practices cannot afford repairs. With money only available for APMS that offers dire consequences for the future of GMS practices,' he said.

Dr Nagpaul described the current position as 'a starvation in investment'. 'The government has either forgotten, or it is not on its agenda,' he added.

Worcestershire LMC has been told that there is unlikely to be any funding until 2011.

This is despite the announcement of the £250 million 'access fund' to build premises in under-doctored areas in the comprehensive spending review.

Last month, health secretary Alan Johnson announced the names of the 38 PCTs that would receive new premises paid for from the access fund.

Worcestershire LMC believes that a 'dearth of new development' will follow the completion of the current schemes to improve buildings.

Dr Nagpaul, who leads the commissioning and services development subcommittee of the GPC, said the government now viewed the private sector as the providers of primary care estates.

'The government has no planned investment strategy for GP practices funding. There is arrogance that the premises may be provided or offered by the private sector. It sees new premises development as based around larger projects like polyclinics, to the detriment of local buildings and access,' he said.

Dr Nagpaul said that London was among the most badly affected areas because of the high prevalence of sub-standard premises in need of either upgrade or replacement.

Dr Nagpaul conceded that some GMS practices would gain funding from PCTs for either new premises or to improve those that are substandard, 'but these will be in the minority'.

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