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GPs go forth

NHS England imposes GP premises freeze as it carries out funding review

Exclusive NHS England has put the vast majority of GP premises investment on hold while it develops a ‘consistent’ national process to evaluate bids for funding.

Pulse has learnt that NHS bosses have stopped all funding - except for a ‘limited number of strategically important’ developments - for GP premises and is currently developing a national framework to evaluate bids for funding.

NHS England added that the audit was ‘nearing completion’ and it would result in advice being developed to help CCGs and area teams in future planning.

The GPC expressed surprise at the announcement, but said that as a lot of the need for investment is hidden the audit may not be an accurate representation of the need for premises funding.

NHS England told Pulse that area teams were working with CCGs to develop a strategy for primary care and out-of-hospital services.

A spokesperson added: ‘Primary care allocations in 2013/14 did not ring-fence any revenue reserve, therefore funding has this year been identified only for a limited number of strategically important developments.’

NHS England head of primary care commissioning Dr David Geddes said: ‘Area teams are currently undertaking an audit to review premises development bids which are currently within the premises pipeline. These are either business cases for GP premises developments transferred as a legacy from PCTs, or new business cases received by area teams since April 2013.’

‘As a single organisation, NHS England will be applying a consistent process to the prioritisation and funding of business cases, approving business cases on clear evidence of need and alignment with emerging primary care strategies. To support this, work is underway to develop advice and a premises fact sheet which will assist CCGs and area teams in planning for 2014/15.’

But the GPC reacted with surprise. Lead negotiator on premises Dr Peter Holden, said: ‘No we are not aware of that audit and it would have been useful had they spoken to us. Because there is a lot of hidden demand out there, where doctors know they need extra space but haven’t bothered to ask because they have been told: “There’s no money, don’t bother asking”. So therefore I will have to say that whilst the audit is welcome, how accurate will it be?’

Birmingham LMC executive secretary Dr Robert Morley said the ‘complete blight’ on premises development was preventing GPs from providing the range of services they wanted to.

He said: ‘There is a lot of talk about moving services out of hospital [and although] many GPs would like to expand and develop their services, lots of GPs are still working in cramped and unsatisfactory premises. They may also struggle with their CQC inspections, but unfortunately they are caught between a rock and a hard place.’

The GPC has said it will step up its campaign for more investment to be made in premises this year, with a demand for £250m worth of investment in 2014.



Readers' comments (5)

  • Vinci Ho

    You see , these kind of audit is very good in buying time for bureaucrats . An audit can be followed by more studies . So things can be deferred and deferred. (Most important decision is to have no decision!)Those who got fed up would give up and couldn't be asked anymore. Of course , then CQC is trying find a maggot under your carpet . Isn't life a b**ch sometimes?

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  • Yet another area where things have gone from really bad to much much worse since NHS England came to absolute power!
    There hasn't been anywhere near adequate support for premises development for many years: why oh why does anyone (even NHS England) believe that GPs will be able to expand out of hospital services with no space in which to do so?
    Or will be willing to undertake development with near certainty of lack of support or change rules on an annual basis?
    Hasn't NHS England heard of Chaos Theory and stamping butterflies?

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  • Time for all CCGs to invite primary and tertiary care commissioners to regular assurance meetings to hold them to account as a start to bringing primary care commissioning back to local teams that know and understand the issues.

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  • Peter Holden is correct - not only have doctors not asked, they have been actively discouraged and advised not to ask by PCTs and ATs as 'there is no money for premises'
    Mystified as to why NHSE are only now doing an audit, especially as the outgoing PCT Estates were supposed to have done a full audit prior to handover on April 1st, a date which does have major symbolic significance as more and more evidence of the utter shambles emerges.

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  • The review process could in the long term yield benefits for Practices if the new primary care strategies and the property requirements to deliver them are aligned.

    It is important that Practices are able to access and take advantage of expanding primary care opportunities and vital that a coherent estates strategy is in place to back it up.

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