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Dear Lord, it is a crisis

Health minister Lord Warner has been a notable contributor to our letters pages of late.

First he took umbrage at our revelation that his department wants 15 per cent of GP services to be offered by alternative providers.

That the Government wants to expand alternative provision is in no doubt ­ it's in the White Paper. A senior official told us there was a target. Another told us it was 15 per cent. But Lord Warner says they are wrong. Seems the elbow doesn't know what the rear is talking about. It wouldn't be the first time.

But it is Lord Warner's second letter, asserting that GP premises in London are not in crisis, and his subsequent comments that the department is presiding over huge improvements in the primary care estate, that really troubles us.

Flatly contradicted

The DoH's own statistics show a third of GP premises in London, more than 500 in total, are substandard. That's not a crisis?

His claim that NHS LIFT has 'been a success' has also been flatly contradicted by North East London strategic health authority, which said it was 'more costly'.

Finally, in saying £1 billion of capital funding is available nationally, Lord Warner is being wilfully obtuse.

His boss, Patricia Hewitt, has admitted capital funding is not the problem, it's revenue funding. GPs can get their premises built, they just can't get them paid for.

Until this problem is addressed, GP premises will remain in crisis, whatever Lord Warner's hollow words.

· Pulse Premises Seminar ­ 29 June, London.

Call 020 7921 3223.

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