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At the heart of general practice since 1960

One-fifth of practices' premises projects 'could collapse'

Around one in five GP premises improvement projects approved through a £1bn Government fund could collapse because the NHS has withdrawn funding, the BMA has claimed.

A survey of 207 projects approved to receive funding from the first tranche of the £1bn ’Primary Care Infrastructure  Fund’ – announced by chancellor George Osborne last year and recently rebadged as the ‘Transformation Fund’ – found that 83% of schemes are being delayed beyond March 2015. 

NHS England local area teams have withdrawn funding for 22% of those delayed schemes, the BMA found.

Pulse first reported that practices were having funding withheld last month, but NHS England claimed the funding was being ‘deferred’.

GPC has hit out at the insecurity of funding, which would prevent patients benefitting from much-needed improvements, adding that GPs who heard the Government ‘fanfare’ around the fund are now doubting it will materialise.

The £1bn fund was announced by Mr Osborne in his Autumn Statement last year, to be split over four years.

In March, NHS England announced 1,000 practices had had their plans for premises improvements approved for funding in 2015/16, prioritising outstanding bids that could be accomplished quickly and those that would support seven-day working and care of the elderly.

But in October NHS England announced an overhaul of the funding arrangements for next year, which would extend the time practices have to complete their projects, but will also require new and deferred bids to be redrawn to meet local CCG priorities.

And the BMA survey has revealed that delays are affecting practices already, and there are concerns that they may not get the long-term funding promised.

Of the 207 bids approved in principle who responded to the survey:

  • 18% have been told by their area teams that the funding will be withdrawn due to delays.
  • 19% said their scheme had been delayed partly because of a refusal of NHS England to meet recurrent costs.
  • 28% said their scheme had been delayed partly due to a lack of expertise within NHS England.

GPC executive committee member Dr Brian Balmer said the results ‘paint a depressing picture of a faltering programme of investment’ that has failed to deliver on promises of improvement, and is holding GPs back from offering more appointments and services.

He added: ‘Most worrying is that one in five are being refused support from NHS England and CCGs for the recurring costs of maintaining new facilities. This could mean that these projects cannot be completed and the bids could simply collapse. That would leave patients with no hope of getting the improved care they deserve.

‘Already some bids have been told by local area teams that they may not be able to support their projects financially.

‘The Government announced the extra investment in GP facilities with a lot of fanfare, but on the ground many GPs are beginning to doubt these supposed improvements will ever be delivered. Ministers have to get a grip on the project and deliver what they have promised, otherwise patient care will continue to suffer.’

An NHS England spokesperson said that they were committed to supporting bids that would over-run ‘subject to approval’, saying: ’The Primary Care Transformation Fund is a major four-year investment, not a quick fix and this small survey does not represent the full picture. The ambition and range of projects we have seen means some projects may take longer than expected but we are committed to supporting these projects next year, subject to approval.

’We are working hard to ensure that this funding delivers improved services for patients, not just now, but well into the future.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • Does it really matter? My impression is that funding is only for 'insiders'.
    My last application for putting a stair lift and changing a couple of sinks and taps was accepted in a diplomatic manner which made it impossible to avail of it.
    The stair lift for improving access was rejected and I was allowed to put in a couple of sinks and taps with MINIMUM SPEND OF £5000 !!
    With the stair lift, I would have just hit the target but without it, I would need golden taps so they could beat the required £5000.
    Transparency is what we need in the system but then this is NHSE and NHS Property Services for you - with people either too intelligent for their own good or dumb nitwits exploiting the system to favour the few.

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  • Vinci Ho

    You can start to see 'cracks' on Ozzy's face. As I said before , there will be more U-turns since the big one on cuts in tax credit and police budget . Sadly ,broken 'promise' is also a U turn.
    If you have a chance to read today BBC Health news report on NAO(national audit office report , which I tend to pay more attention these days) , the financial problems in NHS have become endemic and wil be considered as a 'norm' . Last time similar situation( not as severe as now) was in a decade ago , but extra money, above inflation , was spent year on year to get out of jail.(analysis by Nick Triggle).
    If I was judgemental, I would say whoever voted for this government to exist had subconsciously signed the death certificate of NHS..........(yes , yes , one can argue any government would have the same problem).

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  • Vinci Ho

    Such a irony and betrayal not so long ago , NHS was 'used' as a selling hallmark and UK label in the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games.......

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  • Vinci Ho

    By the way , the force awakens tonight in London Premiere( will watch this weekend , can't wait!!!)

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  • Personal observation - It's not just the government but also it seems that failed or accused of failures and intrigues top brass across the NHS is being shuffled from one County to another with promotions. It's like people from Kent going to Sussex and from Sussex coming to Kent or a shuffle from the West part of the County to the East. Same names, same habits and same stinking dump of failures and corruption. Remains to be seen whether private providers who were favoured by these Mangers are also moving businesses with them to the new abodes.

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  • Like all this government's pre election bribes no more than a deliberate lie

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