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GP premises crisis

Almost one in three practices in London is in substandard premises and the problem is getting worse, Government figures have revealed.

Of the capital's 1,607 practice premises, 517 fall below minimum requirements, MPs were told last week. The number has risen from 471 in 2001.

The rise has come despite Department of Health claims to have improved the quality of the GP estate via the NHS Lift scheme.

In Havering PCT in north-east London, every one of its 58 premises were substandard.

Lewisham and Enfield followed closely behind, with 94 and 79 per cent respectively.

A spokeswoman for Havering PCT said it had three Lift schemes in progress which would house eight practices.

But Dr Rob Jackson, a GP in Woolwich and chair of the Londonwide GP Forum, said NHS Lift had been 'disappointing'. He said: 'The enormous lack of liaison between borough councils and PCTs means Lift becomes an over-complex process.'

Only 12 new premises will be built in London via Lift this year and 60 nationally.

George Murdoch, NHS Alliance premises spokesman, said: 'The government is trying to shovel extra responsibility on to primary care despite the already total lack of space for existing services. People have lost track of reality.'

Criteria for judging premises includes wheelchair access, toilet facilities and access to and within premises.

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