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GP bids for £1bn premises funding ‘must prioritise extended access and care of frail elderly’

GPs bidding for part of the £1bn Government funding for premises upgrades will have to show the extent to which the investment would increase patient contact time and help reduce emergencies for the over 75s, NHS England has said today.

A letter being sent to practices today will include a template for the bids, which will ask for a host of information, including details on the existing premises, how it will improve extended opening hours and maximisation of space and how patients have been involved in drawing up the plans to date.

NHS England’s invitation to bid for the first £250 million tranche of the money, set to be invested in 2015/16, says that the improvement of elderly care was ‘essential in supporting the reduction of hospital admissions’.

It also reiterated that this first tranche of funding ‘will predominantly accelerate schemes which are in the pipeline, bringing benefits to patients more quickly’, with a deadline of 16 February.

The announcement follows chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement, which said that a total of £1bn was being invested into primary care facilities.

This was in addition to a £200m ‘transformation fund’ to support the creation of the new models of care set out in NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View, which would see practices employing consultants, and hospitals employing GPs.

NHS England said today: ‘GPs are being invited to bid for the investment funding. They will need to set out how practices will give them the capacity to do more; provide value for money; improvements in access and services for the frail and elderly.

‘This new funding, alongside our incremental premises programme, will accelerate investment in increasing infrastructure, accelerate better use of technology and in the short term, will be used to address immediate capacity and access issues, as well as lay the foundations for more integrated care to be delivered in community settings.’

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘Any version of a better NHS over the next five years will need stronger GP services, resourced to offer a wider range of services. That’s why kick-starting an upgrade in primary care infrastructure is no longer a nice-to-have but is mission critical.’

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the GPC was ‘committed’ to ensuring this funding ‘reaches GPs on the ground’.

He added: ‘This pledge of extra investment is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and if delivered properly could result in real change.’

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We hope that this pledge of new money is the beginning of a “new deal for general practice” and will allow us to treat more patients in the community, keeping them out of hospitals unless absolutely necessary.

‘Our patients deserve to see their GP in modern surroundings with state of the art equipment, but this must go hand in hand with funding for frontline patient care – and proactive initiatives to boost GP numbers.’

As previously reported, practices wishing to apply for funding to pilot new models such as the multi-specialty community provider (MCP) option described in NHS England’s five-year planwere asked to come forward by 2 February.