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£10m premises storm

Lack of action by local health boards is stopping Welsh GPs taking advantage of £10 million- worth of funding for premises development.

GPs are reporting growing frustration that their plans for premises improvements or moves to a new building are being stymied because many LHBs have failed to develop an estates strategy.

The crisis is set to dominate this month's Welsh LMCs conference, with 14 motions put forward on premises problems, most of which condemn health boards.

Dr Andrew Dearden, GPC Wales chair, said LHBs were supposed to have put forward estates strategies to the Welsh Assembly three years ago, but some still had not.

Others that had, had not sought GP input, he added.

Dr Dearden said: 'There is money ­ £9-£10 million ­ sitting in the assembly and GPs have been putting in bids for it but the LHBs have been too slow.'

Dr Charles Allanby, chair of Bro Taf LMC, said GPs needed a fast response from health boards in order to secure land and commit to a developer.

But they faced having to ensure their development met a LHB's 10- to 15-year plan, which still might not address unexpected issues like large building developments or other population changes.

He said: 'It's all very well having an estates strategy but it's a question of how it's going to be implemented.

'That's not being discussed in an open fashion or a co-ordinated fashion.'

Dr Gareth Hayes, a GP in Cardiff, said the current system made it particularly difficult for GPs who did not want to follow the PFI route.

He is embroiled in a complicated process to try to move his practice, possibly to the site of a local hospital.

He said: 'It's frustrating because when they made the premises statement, Wales did so much better than England.

'They promised a large amount of money to be spent on premises and then made it impossible to spend it.'

Dr Hayes added: 'I'm going to have to get a developer and then the NHS is going to sell the NHS a piece of land, with the developer getting the profit.'

The Welsh LMCs conference takes place on 26 March at the Vale of Glamorgan Golf and Spa Resort, Cardiff.

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