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London councils call for improvements to GP premises

A group of councils from across London has pledged to help ‘transform London’s aging GP and primary care premises,’ by having a greater say in decisions over improvements to practices.

London Councils, which represents the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London, said it is concerned about the ‘deteriorating’ condition of GP surgeries.

It said many London GP practices are no longer suitable because they are located in old purpose-built centres or converted residential housing, while affordable property is becoming increasingly difficult to find in the capital.

The organisation said it was important for the NHS not to make decisions about premises funding on its own – and stressed that councils were committed to contributing their ‘knowledge and resources’ to ensure improvements are secured.

In a statement, London Councils said: ‘[We will] seek agreement on funding and devolved powers in order to offer a new deal to transform London’s aging GP and primary care premises, as part of a wider improvement in the quality of primary care service offered to all Londoners.’

London Councils has also called for increased devolution and a simplification of NHS capital funding, a strengthened role for local authority health and wellbeing boards, and for local health partners to provide maps of primary care estate to accelerate premises improvements.

The commitment to a more collaborative approach comes as part of a series of pledges made by borough leaders and elected mayors in London first launched in April 2019 to be delivered by 2022.

Councillor Ray Puddifoot, London Councils’ executive member for health and care, said: ‘Londoners deserve GP surgeries fit for the 21st century, but many primary care premises are in deteriorating condition and simply aren’t suitable for modern health care.

‘Boroughs want to work with NHS colleagues to deliver a new generation of primary care premises. We know that some areas of the capital are poorly served by the current distribution of services, leaving too many Londoners struggling to access a local GP.’

He added: ‘The health service shouldn’t take investment decisions in isolation – local government needs to be at the table, contributing our knowledge and resources to the future development of primary care provision for our communities.’

In August, GP leaders urged the Government to make ‘urgent’ investments in GP premises.

David Sloman, regional director for the NHS in London, said: ‘Working with our partners is key to delivering on our vision to make London the healthiest global city, and we are looking forward to working together to provide the best care for Londoners.’