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Patients across England are set to benefit from a £250m investment in GP premises every year for the next four years.
The NHS England funding will deliver on the promise of a new deal for primary care, as highlighted in the NHS Five Year Forward View. It is the first tranche of the recently announced £1billion investment to improve premises, help practices to harness technology and give practices the space to offer more appointments and improved care for the frail elderly – essential in supporting the reduction of hospital admissions.
GPs across the country are being invited to submit bids to improve their premises, either through making improvements to existing buildings or the creation of new ones. In the first year it is anticipated that the money will predominantly accelerate schemes which are in the pipeline, bringing benefits to patients more quickly. GPs are being invited to bid for the investment funding. They will need to set out how practices will give them the capacity to do more; provide value for money; improvements in access and services for the frail and elderly.
This new funding, alongside our incremental premises programme, will accelerate investment in increasing infrastructure, accelerate better use of technology and in the short term, will be used to address immediate capacity and access issues, as well as lay the foundations for more integrated care to be delivered in community settings.
A recent British Medical Association survey suggested that four out of ten practices felt that their current practices were not adequate to deliver services to patients.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Any version of a better NHS over the next five years will need stronger GP services, resourced to offer a wider range of services. That’s why kick-starting an upgrade in primary care infrastructure is no longer a nice-to-have but is mission critical.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the BMA’s General Practice Committee, said:“It is encouraging that there is finally central recognition of the huge historic underinvestment in GP premises following prolonged pressure from the BMA’s GPs committee and a commitment we secured in the 2015/16 contract negotiations. A recent BMA survey found that seven out of ten GP practices were too cramped and inadequate to expand the services they provide, while four out of ten said their facilities were preventing them from providing even basic GP services.
“This pledge of extra investment is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and if delivered properly could result in real change. The BMA GPs committee is committed to working with NHS England to ensure this funding reaches everyday practices on the ground, so that GPs and their staff can work in fit for purpose facilities to optimally deliver the expanding level of care provided in general practice.”
Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is excellent that NHS England are acting on our calls to provide this urgently needed investment in general practice, so that we can deliver the care and services that our patients need and deserve.
“We hope that this pledge of new money is the beginning of a ‘new deal for general practice’ and will allow us to treat more patients in the community, keeping them out of hospitals unless absolutely necessary.
“Our patients deserve to see their GP in modern surroundings with state of the art equipment, but this must go hand in hand with funding for frontline patient care – and proactive initiatives to boost GP numbers.