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NHS LIFT is creating a two-tier system for premises funding and threatens to put scores of practices out of business.

GPs have condemned the Government and PCTs for being fixated on the private finance initiative as the only way to fund premises schemes.

The policy means the majority of GPs who are not in the 42 LIFT areas are being starved of vital investment. A total of 120 PCTs are covered by LIFT ­ Local Improvement Finance Trust ­ leaving 186 excluded.

Even in LIFT areas, LMCs reported that many practices' proposals were being overlooked in favour of headline-grabbing new developments.

Dr Rob Barnett, secretary of Liverpool LMC, said GPs in Everton were 'ecstatic' at the prospect of a new LIFT building opening next month.

But those GPs outside of LIFT were not able to compete on a 'level playing field'.

He said: 'The money available is extremely limited and as land is expensive I am not

sure how those practices will survive.

'The alternatives are not great unless GPs want to finance it themselves and that's not something I'd advise in the inner city.'

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said there were 'glittering promises for the few' but GPs who 'came second' in the race for funding were under severe pressure.

He said: 'The truth is nobody can identify where this money is. LIFT is acting as a piece of blotting paper for premises funding.'

GPs lucky enough to be in a LIFT area also complained progress was slow.

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said GPs were facing endless delays.

'The impact on practices involved in LIFT is one of frustration as they don't have control. In terms of the other practices it's a complete blight.'

He added: 'The concept is something that benefits the private sector partners. It's a gravy train for them.'

Chris Locke, chief executive of Nottingham LMC, said he was worried local PCTs would 'exhaust' the available funds in the first waves of LIFT.

'The reality isn't what it was cracked up to be,' he said.

'We are in an artificial

situation where there are

big developments but the

future for everyone else is uncertain.'

LMCs have put forward a series of motions for June's

annual LMC conference criticising the Government's focus on LIFT.

By Rob Finch

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