GPs will now require CCG sign off on plans to improve their premises after NHS England overhauled the terms of its £1bn scheme to improve primary care premises fund in its second year.
In a letter to CCGs on Wednesday, NHS England invited commissioners to submit ‘support for the funding of improvements or developments in practices in your CCG area’.
The GPC has said it is concerned about the overhaul of the scheme, with the first year already mired in delays, and warned that the changes would see funding meant for GP premises ‘siphoned’ off into other projects.
The bids for the second round of funding will have until 2019 to complete – an extension that the GPC have said should also apply to this year’s bids.
The letter, from NHS England national director of commissioning operations Dame Barbara Hakin, sets criteria to be met before funding from the newly rebranded ‘Primary Care Transformation (formerly Infrastructure) Fund’ is approved.
The criteria include:
- Increased capacity for primary care services out of hospital;
- Commitment to a wider range of services as set out in commissioning intentions to reduce unplanned admissions to hospital;
- Improving seven-day access to effective care;
- Increased training capacity.
In March, NHS England announced 1,000 practices had had their plans for premises improvements approved for funding in 2015/16, prioritising outstanding bids that could be accomplished quickly and those that would support seven-day working and care of the elderly.
But GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said there had been significant delays in the first tranche of funding, adding: ‘The reality on the ground is that the scheme has been fraught with delays and administrative hurdles, with large numbers of promised improvements to GP practices across the country yet to start.
‘Just as worryingly, it now appears that some of the funding may now be siphoned off into other projects and priorities. This is simply unacceptable: ministers promised this funding would improve GP services infrastructure and they should stick to that commitment.
‘We will be immediately raising our concerns with NHSE and demanding an explanation of how we are going to rescue this faltering programme.’