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GPs ridicule '£1bn for premises' claim

GPs have scoffed at Government claims that more than £1 billion capital funding for premises developments will be available this year.

Lord Warner, health minister, told an NHS Confederation conference that more new GP surgeries and primary care centres would open this year than branches of Tesco. He said: 'By 2008, the total will stand at 750. I don't expect to see this capital investment slowing.'

But GPs said the promises from the Government had all been heard before.

Dr Russell Walshaw, a member of the GPC's practice finance committee, said: 'I can't believe there is £1 billion available when the NHS finances are in such a parlous state.'

Dr Nick Gilbert said his

six-partner practice in Tuffley, Gloucestershire, was being forc-ed to continue practising from a 1960s bungalow because West Gloucestershire PCT had shelved an £800,000 new

development.

The bungalow has just one consulting room, a waiting room, a reception and a small kitchen where nurses often have to hold surgeries.

Dr Nick Gilbert, a GP at the practice, said: 'We have no ability to offer people a chaperone and it probably transgresses all sorts of health and safety regulations.'

New GPC guidance has also warned GPs of hidden costs in NHS LIFT developments.

As LIFT practices tended to have better facilities, rent was likely to be higher so leases should clearly outline rent reimbursement levels, it said.

GPs should also be aware that initial figures for service charges were estimates and could be inaccurate, the guidance stated.

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