NHS England asks GPs to propose ‘solutions’ to premises problems
NHS England has launched an open call for GPs to propose solutions to issues concerning GP practice premises.
The consultation, which opened 8 August and closes 5 September, forms part of the ongoing six-month review of GP premises by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the BMA's GP Commitee.
The review, which was born from the 2018/19 GP contract negotiations, followed the long-awaited agreement on new premises cost directions in March.
Launching the consultation, NHS England said 'suitable premises are vital for the delivery of high quality care', with the review intended to ensure GP premises are 'fit for purpose, both now and in the future'.
It said the review could result in solutions for 'specific issues' as well as 'more significant system reconfiguration'.
The review will look at ownership models, funding and contracting and the utilisation of premises.
But NHS England added: 'As we cannot assume that additional funding will be available, we would like to explore cost-neutral proposals, and those which yield efficiencies.'
It said barriers already raised in the review included:
- concerns with GP partner liabilities for practice premises ownership or leasehold (so-called 'last partner standing' issues);
- a perception that premises ownership is unattractive and puts GPs off from partnership;
- 'sub-optimal utilisation' of existing estate; and
- problems with promoting 'mixed use' of new premises due to concerns about liability between the different parties involved.
The recent agreement on premises cost directions between GPC and the Government mean GP practices can now be reimbursed 100% of costs of upgrades under the Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF).
However they did not present a solution to the problem of six-figure service charge hikes faced by practices.