Unfair Darzi centre funding revealed

Exclusive - 'Astonishing' premises costs at least four times the normal local level.

Premises costs for the government's new GP surgeries can be several times higher than for conventional practices, GP can reveal.

Enquiries by the GPC have revealed a 'quantum leap' in premises costs.

GPC negotiator and premises expert Dr Peter Holden said: 'When we make enquiries, we are told that commercial confidence applies. But we believe that what we are seeing is a national picture. Some of us feel the health service is being taken for a ride.'

One Manchester surgery set up under the £250 million DoH scheme to boost provision in under-doctored areas has been modelled on a premises cost at least four times higher than for existing practices.

The new GP surgery at Blackfriars, Salford, Greater Manchester was designed for 6,000 patients and modelled on annual premises costs of £400,000. This works out at a minimum annual per patient cost of £67.

If the target practice list is not achieved, the per patient cost is even higher.

A spokesman for Salford PCT confirmed: 'A notional figure of £400,000 was included in the financial model for pass-through costs, intended to cover premises and IT costs.'

Manchester GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick said: 'This is astonishingly high, four times the maximum commercial property lenders I spoke to had heard of. Essentially, the building costs would be greater than all the other costs of running the centre.'

Dr Holden added: 'At my practice the annual premises cost is £8-9 a head. The contract for the new surgeries is drawn up for only five to six years so that is the term you have to get your money back. With a longer contract, you have longer to get your money back.'

David Barr, clerk to Kent LMCs, said he would be 'very unhappy' if the standard of accommodation offered in the new surgeries was significantly higher than that offered to existing practices.

He added that he was concerned about 'very large amounts of money' being put into practices with an unquantified patient list.

The revelation coincides with the publication in the BMJ earlier this month of evidence that the government's independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) in England could have been overpaid by £927 million.

English ISTC contracts are protected by commercial confidentiality but Professor Allyson Pollock and Graham Kirkwood at the University of Edinburgh found that Scottish health boards may have overpaid up to £3 million in the first year of the contract for the only ISTC in Scotland.


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