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NHS Lift is condemned over 'fortified bunkers'

GP premises being built under the NHS Lift private finance initiative are in danger of becoming 'fortified bunkers', research for the NHS Alliance warns.

The study of the 10 first-wave Lift areas found many sites for new GP premises and 'one-stop shops' had been chosen hastily, were in the wrong area and had to be

'fortified' against vandalism.

Little effort had been made to incorporate pharmacists and other services in centres with GPs, found the research by the School of the Built Environment at the University of Northumbria and the medical architecture research unit at South Bank University.

Professor Chris Drinkwater, professor of primary care development at the University of Northumbria and public health lead for the alliance, said pressure to provide new buildings quickly was being put before the needs of the community.

'The question is have we learned the lessons from the health centre building programme? They have very often become fortified bunkers fronted by security fences,' he said.

'Developers tick the boxes in terms of consultation with the community but it tends to fall down translating that into building specifications and services provided.'

Professor Drinkwater, a former GP, added: 'Investing in the front end can save in the long-term.

'The Lift process currently encourages the opposite to happen.'

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