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GPs could lose cash and premises

Health authority cuts threaten projects in the Midlands and could leave GPs tens of thousands out of pocket

Practices that have invested thousands of pounds to develop new premises are set to lose the money and their new buildings because of NHS spending cuts.

At least six projects in the Worcestershire and Coventry area agreed under previous PCT regimes are under threat because of deficits across the strategic health authority region.

Worcestershire PCT has said it may not be able to cover notional rents for five surgery schemes already under way.

Dr David Pryke is one of the GPs affected. His practice has forked out £150,000 in planning costs plus architects' and lawyers' fees for a new £8m health centre in Bromsgrove.

Dr Pryke was furious that the project was now in jeopardy. He said: 'We are bursting at the seams in our current building. We have to share rooms and stagger surgeries. We had an agreement with the old Redditch and Bromsgrove PCT. We have spent a couple of years negotiating a new site.'

A practice in Coventry that has spent seven years trying to move premises has also been affected. Three GPs have paid out £40,000 so far in fees between them.

They have secured planning permission for a new £1.3m surgery, but Coventry Teaching PCT has said it has doubts about funding.

Dr Nicholas Mottram, a partner at the Cheylesmore practice, said the GPs were ready to start building the new premises within a couple a months. He said: 'We are angry. We already had an agreement and it should be honoured. GPs are holding surgeries in converted houses. We need extra space.'

Richard Gunn, a practice manager in Bewdley, Worcestershire, said a planned medical centre was also under threat along with linked regeneration projects.

A spokesperson for NHS East Midlands said it was reviewing decisions made by the old PCTs but was looking at how it could commit to some developments.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said the GPs affected and any others in a similar position may have a strong case for compensation. He added: 'This shortsighted view PCTs are taking will be to the detriment of the patient population they are serving.'

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