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Remote GP condemns OOH plans

Ministers have bowed to GP pressure and announced a £108 million cash boost for practice premises.

The decision, exclusively revealed by Pulse last month, comes after sustained criticism of the Department of Health for failing to invest in upgrades or new buildings.

GPs said they would be unable to carry out the Government's agenda of taking on work from secondary care without extra cash to improve their premises.

The new money is a one-off payment and is spread over two years, with £42 million available this year and £66 million in 2005/6.

GPs said the investment would kick-start new schemes and improvements, many of which had stalled. But they added the cash would still only cover a fraction of the practices that need improved premises.

Dr Russell Walshaw, a member of the GPC practice premises sub-committee, said the Government had at least been listening to GPs.

'But you still have to consider all the schemes that are in the pipeline to see how far the money will go to push through those that have hiccoughed,' he added.

Health minister John Hutton said the money could be used for practices to accommodate more nurse practitioners or trainee GPs.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said Mr Hutton's viewpoint 'contrasted oddly' with Government cuts in training budgets for GPs.

He added that the GPC wanted to discuss restrictions on the premises funding which meant not all GPs would have access to it.

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