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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Halt 'irresponsible' house building plans or put patients at risk, GPs tell authorities

Exclusive A GP practice which has had its bid for premises funding blocked by NHS England has written to local authorities to say it would be ‘irresponsible’ to increase the area’s population at this time.

Faversham Medical Practice, which had been assessed as a priority to receive money from the Government’s £1bn premises fund to be able to add more treatment rooms, told Swale Borough Council that under current circumstances going ahead with planned housing development in the area would be a threat to patient safety.

The GPs warned this comes as two practice closures in the area in the last year has left remaining practices with ‘enormous pressure’ on their services.

And, although NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG assessed Faversham Medical Practice's expansion plans as being of 'high importance', NHS England has put the approved funding on hold because the practice has refused to sign a new lease with NHS Property Services.

According to the practice, NHSPS has proposed an increase in fees from £15,000 a year to £80,000 a year, which could 'make the practice financially unviable' and it has therefore refused signing.

Faversham Medical Practice senior partner Dr Daniel Moore's letter said that in response, the practice is 'now reluctantly considering that we will have no option but to close our list to new patients'.

He added: 'I am writing to ask Swale Borough Council to refuse any planning applications which would increase the housing stock in the Faversham area, and by definition increase the number of residents requiring a GP practice.

'It would not be safe to allow the population to grow in the area knowing that there is inadequate provision of primary care in the area.'

He concluded by saying he is sure the council 'will take this matter as seriously as we are and take immediate steps to safeguard the health of the local population'.

A practice spokesperson added: 'It would be irresponsible of the council to let more houses be built if they can’t ensure that primary care services are available to their population.’

A Swale Borough Council spokesperson said: 'Whilst we understand and sympathise with the concerns raised, the council’s planning committee would be not in a position to refuse planning applications for new housing on allocated sites where the applicants are prepared to meet their generated health infrastructure for those that will live on the site.

'We would be willing to engage with all the parties concerned with a view to securing adequate and sustainable health services for people in Faversham, or elsewhere in the borough.'

An NHS England (South) spokesperson said: 'If taxpayers are about to invest substantial new funding in upgrading surgeries it is right to ensure a long-term return on that investment. The Estates and Technology Transformation Fund criteria is clear that security through a lease is a key requisite for funding and all practices applying have to agree to this.

'Once agreed we remain fully committed to investment, subject to normal due diligence checks.'

NHS England's failure to secure vital investment to struggling GP practices

Faversham Medical Practice is just one of several GP practices caught up in a lengthy dispute between GP practices and landlord NHS Property Services about signing new leases that would exponentially hike their service charges.

And the dispute is having the follow-on effect that promised premises funding has been put on hold as practices are required to have signed a lease in order to access funds - an England-wide problem which Pulse has previously highlighted.

Recently, Pulse learned that the GPC may take legal action to end the lengthy dispute over 'unreasonable' premises fee hikes proposed by NHS Property Services.

At last month's LMCs Conference, the GPC announced it was 'hopeful' the issue could be resolved in GPs' favour, and expected it to 'come to a head in the next month'.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Cobblers

    Swale Borough Council = Not interested.

    NHSE = Sign your life away boys & girls. 25 year lease at extortionate rates (and no we won't explain our figures).

    Dr Daniel Moore = Lube up mate you're going to be shafted.

    Or you can play the endgame. Close the list, close the practice.

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  • NHS Property Services are proposing ridiculous increases in Health Centre charges. They have proposed a 500% in mine, which would make my practice non viable. They quote nonsense about charging a commercial rent, but the proposed charges are much higher and bear no resemblance to office accommodation in my area a It appears to be a deliberate attempt to destabilise health centre practises

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  • These crazy increase in charges mean no young GP would ever sign to take over my health centre space so it is a further block on the continuation of a practice

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  • Our massively hiked non-reimbursible bill included just shy of £17,000 for staff (who we employ and pay ourselves) once we forced a breakdown of the sum. Recommend judicious use of the Freedom of Information act for any practice who meets with similar resistance when asking to have the numbers explained.

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  • Dr Moore. The next letter you write should be your resignation to NHSE. Then tell those few patients who are interested the reason you are shutting the shop. Tell the local press that Swale Council couldn't give a stuff about their residents access to healthcare.

    Your gun is out of bullets. Time to demobilise, go home and put the war behind you, soldier.

    Let some other sod pick over the bones. You tried. No one listened. Be done.

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  • NHSE sat on payments under 106 given as far back as 2010 to support GP Practices. They even got the LMC to advise GPs at an LMC conference through a Surveyor from Maidstone that NHSE can do anything with the money given by Developers under this article. 7 years down the line, with intervention of the local MP, Medway CCG has been given access to 1 million of hoarded money which was being blocked by the powers above who had acknowledged to ICO under FOI that they (NHSE) had 'informally' consulted a 'few Practices' about availability of funds. However, never was a penny spent on health services, it seems. Corruption is at the local levels and NHSE's aim is to destroy general practice. No hold barred !

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  • Unscepted,Things are sounding potentially fraudulant or proper procedures not followed?
    Why not involve police? Perhaps some head(s) need to roll or is this corporate non-compliance re proper procedures? Let police decide? This could keep on happening if action not taken.

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  • Thanks for the support guys. Of the local practices 2 have closed for good, a third is on its way and the other has closed its list. We are the only one still accepting new patients. If the various bits of the NHS that are set up to help us do our jobs would start working more effectively then we could expand and provide a better service. If they don't then we are heading for the same brick wall as other practices. But we won't go down without a fight. We owe our patients at least that much and we have had a lot of support from our patients, local organisations, our MP, the CCG and the BMA.

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  • They are doing everything they can to discourage partnerships so that corporates can take over

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    There is no consideration of health provision in most areas where new housing is planned. They never come and ask the GP practices in the area if they can cope.

    Instead they ask NHS England where they either don't even consider the situation, or get some YTS trainee to look and say all the lists are open - build away.

    I spoke to the chief executive of local council planning huge building projects and no new surgeries built or planned for new housing, and he said if he knew there was a lack of provision, he would have insisted the developers plan for this, as he had for schooling.

    The all you can eat GP buffet has to stop - pay us per consultation and the problem will improve.

    Chand and any other BMA people listening - the new contract negotiations have to stop being unlimited access, instead a fee per consult, telephone consult, and home visit.

    Every blood test, nurse appointment and GP service needs to be costed and funded. If you provide more appointments or services you are funded fairly for them.

    Then it falls on the DOH and NHS England to regulate demand via a national education and advertising program.

    This is the only way Primary care in the UK will survive into the future - or continue to wither and die as the older generation leave, and the new intake can't cope with the long hours and workload.

    The hospitals charge per contact, so should we.

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