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'Crisis of GP confidence' on premises

A chronic shortage of Government cash for new premises is causing a 'crisis of confidence' among GPs and primary care organisations, research concludes.

The report from the NHS Alliance found £200 million given to PCOs by the Department of Health for premises projects was only a fraction of the amount needed to fund new surgeries or upgrades.

GPs have described the crisis as a 'contract breaker' because doctors in unsuitable buildings will be left unable to take on enhanced services contracts or earn more via the quality framework.

The research, carried out by Nexus Consulting, found spiralling property values and demand for bigger surgeries to house the new services offered by GPs were causing PCOs

to hold off from backing new developments.

Although they could fund the capital cost through schemes such as NHS Lift, PCOs feared they could not afford the long-term cost-rent reimbursement.

PCOs' caution has also left GPs uncertain whether to approach them with proposals or find their own developer and go it alone.

Dr Grant Kelly, GPC prem-ises sub-committee chair, said the Government had failed to deliver on its promise to invest in GP premises. 'This is a national problem, everyone is in limbo. There is a loss of confidence in the sector full stop,' he said. 'It's a contract breaker in the long-term.'

Dr Nigel Watson, joint-chief executive of Wessex

LMCs, said he was aware of at least eight practices that had been unable to get the medical and dental education levy because their premises were not up to scratch.

Dr Peter Swinyard, Wiltshire LMC member and a GP in Swindon, said the shortage of cash was causing a major bottleneck in the development of primary care.

He said: 'It is remarkably shortsighted of the Government. The developers are going to walk away in droves.'

By Jacqueline Head

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