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GPs threatening to leave flagship premises scheme

GPs are threatening to desert the Government's NHS Lift public-private partnership to improve GP premises in protest at lengthy delays in getting the scheme under way.

Three practices in Manchester have begun independent talks with developers to speed up the building of their new premises.

The practices are also understood to be angry at a lack of consultation by managers of the Manchester, Salford and Trafford NHS Lift scheme.

NHS Lift is a £195 million programme to improve primary care premises, particularly in inner-city areas, by setting up partnerships between developers and the NHS.

Manchester, Salford and Trafford was one of six sites in the first wave of the scheme. A further 36 areas now involved.

Dr Ash Bakhat, lead GP for the Lift project at Manchester LMC, said practices are sceptical over whether their premises at new one-stop shop centres would have more space than their current cramped surgeries.

GPs were also worried about what would happen to their current premises and arrangements for the lease at their new site, he added.

'Because of the timetable and the way things are leading up to the preferred bidder stage, there is concern that contact with the Lift team and the PCT has been less than the practices would have liked,' Dr Bakhat, a GP in Manchester, said.

None of the practices involved wished to comment, but the Brunswick Health Centre in Chorlton-on-Medlock said it had sent a complaint letter to Central Manchester PCT about the trust's lack of communication.

North Manchester PCT said it was aware of the concern at some practices.

Glenn Bowker, associate director of modernisation at the trust, said: 'We have been showing some practices' drawings, but it's not always easy because of commercial sensitivity and there are some practices involved where there are no drawings.'

Chris Wright, Lift project co-ordinator, said he was aware some GPs thought the process was taking too long.

A preferred bidder and the Lift company formed shortly after will be selected early next month for the scheme.

'We are surprised at their reaction,' he said. 'We felt we had got our message across about what we are trying to achieve and the benefits of it.'

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