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Invest £250m in premises or forget shifting care to GPs, GPC to tell NHS England

Exclusive GPC negotiators are stepping up their campaign for more investment in GP premises this year and will demand NHS England stump up at least £250m to improve surgeries across the country.

Dr Peter Holden, the GPC’s lead negotiator on premises, told Pulse that NHS England will be told to ‘wind their expectations in’ unless more funding is released for much needed work on GP premises.

The GPC will ask for a minimum investment of £250m in 2014, alongside a commitment to setting out longer-term surgery contracts that offer more stability to outside financiers.

Negotiators say that the shifting of more care out of hospitals and into primary care – as called for in NHS England’s high-profile ‘Call To Action’ campaign – will be impossible unless additional resources are invested in GP premises.

The GPC has four meetings scheduled in January with NHS England and NHS Property Services to discuss GP premises and will push on the need for greater premises funding as well as issues already raised last year, such as funding for disposal of trade waste.

Dr Holden said: ‘What I will be saying is that if you are not prepared to make this investment, then politicians keep your mouths shut and stop stoking demand, wind your expectations in – because without the right premises your expectations cannot be met.’

‘£250m is peanuts in the scale of things. When you look at the amount of money they are prepared to throw at short-term problems like A&E, you know, this is peanuts and it is time the Government got its priorities right.’

Dr Holden said that he will reiterate calls for NHS England to give surgeries longer-term contracts to encourage outside investment and use NHS Property Services’ existing property portfolio as collateral to set up a separate financing entity for GP premises.

He said: ‘NHS Property Services is an arm of NHS England and it holds a property portfolio of £3.6bn. I have been saying for some time that that property portfolio could be used as collateral with the banks to create a second-generation practice finance corporation.’

The push comes after several years of unsuccessful drives to boost investment. The GPC’s bid to make premises funding a key plank of the 2013 contract negotiations was cut short by the Government’s contract imposition.

But GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the time was right for a push to ensure better investment in premises.

He said: ‘I think that the time for talking is over around premises. There is absolutely no doubt that premises are one of the greatest constraints in preventing GPs from providing an expanded provision of care. It is a block to delivering the Government’s agenda of moving care into the community and this has to be addressed.’