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GPC to survey grassroots on funding cuts to premises

Exclusive The GPC is set to survey grassroots GPs on the effect of funding cuts for premises ahead of crunch talks with the Government on future investment.

Negotiators met with health minister Earl Howe this month to discuss the effect of NHS England’s freeze on premises investment, and proposed cuts to services including the removal of trade waste and reimbursements for stamp land duty taxes.

The GPC said negotiations were ‘further forward’, and a round table with the ‘movers and shakers’ – including Government representatives – was planned on the issue in the early spring.

It will conduct a survey of GPs in the run-up to the meetings, to inform the discussions and ‘press home [the] advantage’, a negotiator has told Pulse.

Pulse reported in February that NHS England had put the vast majority of GP premises investment on hold while it develops a ‘consistent’ national process to evaluate bids for funding.

It is also in the process of withdrawing many of the discretionary services that had been provided by PCTs, including the removal of trade waste and guaranteeing reimbursements related to stamp duty land tax on lease arrangements of eight years or longer.

Dr Peter Holden, the GPC’s lead on premises and a GP in Matlock, Derbyshire, said the meeting with Earl Howe had been useful.

He said: ‘We have met with Earl Howe, about six days ago. We had a long conversation where many concepts were discussed and I think quite a few concepts were novel. One of the outcomes will be a roundtable meeting of the movers and shakers in this game in the early spring.’

He said: ‘Things are further forward than before so we’ve now got to press home this advantage. NHS England need to be told to stop making excuses – premises have to move a very long way up the agenda and be acted on.’

Dr Holden confirmed that a round table with the Government was being planned, but GPs would be called on to help set the issues with a survey in the next few weeks.

He told Pulse: ‘We will be doing a [online survey] on premises within the next few weeks. People should look out for it and the bigger the feedback, the better.’

‘We’ll use it to inform the round table and explain to the Government that the current status quo is not an option.’

Dr Holden added: ‘[Earl Howe] has said his problem is he has no revenue but a certain amount of capital. Well one of the things he could do with that capital is use some for improvement grants or even allow GPs to prepare plans for what they need so we’re at least at a stage when money comes through that we know what people need – at the moment we don’t.’

GPs have been finding it increasingly difficult to get funding for vital premises improvements.

One prominent GP, Dr Rosemary Leonard, has been waiting more than year for NHS England to approve applications for a premises upgrade, despite the existing practice being deemed ‘not fit for purpose’.

Earlier this month NHS England announced it would conduct a ‘value for money’ review of rent reimbursement, as part of their ‘Call to Action’ for primary care, but the GPC criticised the document for rehashing old policy ideas and ignoring the real crisis.

NHS England were unavailable for comment.