The lack of focus on new GP provision when new housing is built is ‘mad’, according to the primary care minister.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, attended by Pulse, Neil O’Brien claimed the priorities when building new housing are ‘out of whack with what the public want’.
And he went onto highlight that the Government is looking at revising the planning framework to give priority to primary care facilities.
He said: ‘The guidance at the moment says you have to plan for schools but it doesn’t say the same thing about GPs which is mad.
‘We are hoping to get some additional investment in GP estates because we do appreciate the importance of that.’
The Government is looking at revising the National Planning Policy Framework, so that priority is given to GP surgeries and other primary care facilities when building new developments.
NHS England and the Government announced in May that a change in local authority planning guidance this year would ‘raise the priority of primary care facilities’ when considering how funds from new housing developments are allocated.
The recovery plan earlier this year had committed to revising the framework due to ‘pressure on NHS estates’.
It said: ‘We know there is pressure on estates, particularly in areas of housing growth. Ahead of ICBs doing longer-term planning, Government will consult on planning guidance to raise the priority of primary care.
‘In addition, we will support the development of a new standardised design for primary care buildings, providing modern facilities that create a positive working environment for staff and patients and use modern construction methods.’
The plan said that as part of the Government’s wider review of the National Planning Policy Framework and planning guidance, it will consider ‘how primary care infrastructure can better be supported’.
The Government will update planning obligations guidance to ensure that primary care infrastructure is addressed by local planning authorities as they do for other infrastructure demands, such as education.
It will also update guidance to encourage local planning authorities to engage with ICBs on large sites which may create need for extra primary care capacity.
The Government has also begun implementation of a new levy which could help ensure developers pay a fairer share towards local infrastructure like GP practices.
The levy aims to give councils more power over rates and how the money is spent, as well to prevent developers negotiating down the amount they contribute.
And in 2020 a report by think tank Reform found that the NHS was missing out on millions of pounds from property developers.