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Existing GP premises bids prioritised for funding in 2015

‘Shovel-ready’ existing GP premises bids that fit in with NHS England’s five-year plan for the NHS will be prioritised for the £250 million investment made available by the Treasury for 2015/16, Simon Stevens has revealed.

The NHS England chief executive revealed the plans at the Healthcare Finance Management Association’s (HFMA) annual conference in London today, adding that the funding allocations would be announced by the end of March.

Responding to a question from Pulse, Mr Stevens said first priority would be given to projects that are ready to go but have been held back because there was no funding available, which also fit into ‘the context of the broader changes that are needed’.

He added that more detail of how NHS England will spend the four-year £1bn fund for primary care ‘modernisation’ will be revealed at the NHS England board meeting on 17 December.

NHS England has put a freeze on premises investment since February, and many practices have had plans on hold, even when they had been agreed by PCTs before their abolition.

Mr Stevens said that these projects will now be reviewed, and will be prioritised for funding in April.

Mr Stevens said: ‘I think what will happen there is we’ve got a series of projects that are kind of, on the docket as it were. They are the latent demand, that people have wanted for some time, that have not been able to get funded because the funding has not been there. We need to look at the shovel-ready projects… and then we need to do that in the context of the changes that we want to make.’

In addition, he said, they will make decisions on allocations by the end of March: ‘So the specific answer to your question is that we will be making allocations decisions on the totality of the £1.98 billion of new purchasing power that NHS England has responsibility for on December 17, at the NHS England board meeting, and then we I think expect to, by the end of January have our responses back from GPs and CCGs on the primary care component, and then we’d hope to actually make allocations or decisions against that certainly by the end of March.’

Mr Stevens told delegates at the conference that he has been arguing for GP premises investment because without it the plans presented in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View document – including ‘Multispecialty Community Providers’ set up by GPs that will employ consultants – will not be possible to implement.

He said: ‘I’ve been arguing, as you rightly say, including in Pulse, that actually we are not going to be able to pull off the kinds of service improvement and change we need unless we actually address the under-resourcing that has occurred over a number of years now in general practice.

‘And so part of the argument I was mounting, quite frankly, was to kickstart a GP investment process which I am pleased that we now have the option to do on the back of the £250m next year and repeated for the next four years, so there is a £1bn fighting fund we’ve got for primary care and out-of-hospital infrastructure.’