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LIFT schemes under threat from polyclinics

By Gareth Iacobucci

LIFT schemes to help fund new GP premises are under threat because of the Government's drive to roll out polyclinics, Pulse has learned.

GPs in London have been forced to scale back planned premises development as PCTs prepare to implement the polyclinic model, it was claimed this week.

And while SHAs outside London insist LIFT projects are proceeding as planned, Lord Darzi's announcement last week that polyclinics would be deployed beyond the capital has raised fears for LIFT schemes nationwide. Pulse understands architects are also warning that LIFT schemes may be under threat.

GPs at Crown Dale practice in Lambeth were convinced they would have LIFT funding to revamp their premises and offer extra services. But the project has now been put on hold - and Lambeth PCT may downscale the plans and run some services in a new polyclinic in nearby Norwood instead.

Londonwide LMCs joint chief executive Dr Tony Stanton predicted other London LIFT projects were likely to be affected. He said: ‘Funding for virtually all new practice premises has dried up. This is of huge concern for me.'

Dr Colin Gatward, a GP at the Crown Dale practice, said a senior PCT manager had told him the move was linked to Lord Darzi's proposals for polyclinics in the capital.

Dr Gatward and partners have spent four years trying to finance improvements to their practice and now await agreement on a new LIFT business case in the Spring. ‘We feel very let down,' he said. It's looking like we are just to going to have to go back to the drawing board and see where we fit with the polyclinic model.'

A Lambeth PCT spokesperson said polyclinics would not be introduced at the expense of LIFT projects, and that two other LIFT schemes were ‘well advanced'.

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