Practices could see 100% of the costs of new premises paid by NHS England, under changes to existing rules outlined by the General Practice Forward View.
Under existing rules, the NHS can only contribute 66% of funding for new premises, but they may be changed by September 2016 to ’enable NHS England to fund up to 100% of the costs for premises developments’.
It also introduces a number of short-term measures to relieve premises costs for practices, including funding to cover stamp duty land tax for NHS Property Services Tenants and VAT – where this is being charged by a practice’s landlord.
The short-term relief runs from 1 May to the end of October 2016, and also offers ‘transitional support’ where practices leasing from NHS Property Services or Community Health Partnerships have incurred significant increases in management costs.
But, as with the overhauled £1bn Primary Care Transformation Fund, funding available to practices will have to be agreed with CCGs, which have to submit local estates strategies by the end of June 2016.
The announcement highlights the need for modern general practice facilities to ’accommodate multi-disciplinary teams and their training’ and for ’new premises… to cater for significant population growth’.
The Forward View states: ‘CCGs will agree the improvements that will be made so that buildings are used productively and provide the capacity and flexibility that is required. While there are some GP practices that urgently require improvement, there are buildings which are unused or underutilised.’
Working with their CCGs and estates advisors, GP practices will need to help to ensure that buildings are all used productively and effectively.
Other proposals to improve GP premises include:
- The already announced changes to the PCTF which mean development bids are allowed to run over more than one year. This comes after Pulse revealed NHS England had revoked millions in pledged funding for early premises funding bids.
- Investment in financial, legal and design support to allow practices looking to grow and work ‘at scale’ with other practices and health organisations.
- Directing NHS Property Services to do more to ‘transform primary care’ to NHS England’s ‘at-scale’ vision by underwriting leases on larger commissioning-led projects, and buying out GP or third party premises – as Pulse has revealed could happen in newly devolved Manchester and in Hull