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Can the GPC Really Drive Forward Premises Funding and Development?
You may be aware from the recent posters and information that all GP Practices have received that the General Practitioner Council (GPC) ‘Your GP Cares’ campaign is stepping up its drive. The GPC is particularly calling for a national strategy for GP premises investment and development as one of the key aims of their campaign, and has launched with a national survey.
The survey results will inform a high-level premises seminar to be held on 10th July. The seminar, with an opening address from Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality, will bring together stakeholders to discuss continuing issues around development, renovation and the maintenance of primary care premises, and to propose joint potential solutions. Sounds promising then?
What do we need to do?
Every GP Practice is being asked to complete a short survey about their current premises. The purpose is to strengthen GPC negotiations with Government in prioritising the urgent funding and development of GP premises, addressing both current and future needs. In addition, the GPC are looking for any case studies of practices that can highlight the constraints and realities of inadequate premises, and how this is affecting practices and their patients, as part of the Your GP Cares campaign.
How did premises become not fit for purpose?
There has been no strategy for funding of GP premises over the last 10 years mainly due to financial constraints. This seems very unfair considering the amount of NHS investment that has been put into hospitals. It comes as NHS Thurrock CCG revealed it would be addressing substandard premises, with a survey conducted by the former PCT which found that 75% of GP practices across south west Essex were not fit for purpose.
NHS England Local Area Teams won’t approve business cases, even those that were identified in the former PCT estates strategies. Time is rapidly running out to find suitable local sites to which GP Practices can relocate because many of the ideal locations are being eaten up by new housing developments.
With the ever growing financial pressures on GP Practices to meet CQC standards about the suitability of premises, how are GPs supposed to improve patient experience, repair damages, meet infection control standards and have a maintenance plan?
What is the future strategy?
I do wonder if the ultimate plan would be for ‘neighbourhood’ Practices to locate together at large supersites. NHS boss Simon Stevens has already made it clear, in a reversal of current policy, that he wants the NHS to return to treating more patients in their local communities and stop closing cottage-style hospitals.
The closing date for the GPC survey is Friday 4 July and Practices can enter any case studies in the last page on the survey, or respond to the GPC directly at email@example.com.
Alison Lowerson – QCS Expert GP Practice Manager Contributor