GP improvement projects delayed

Around 600 GP premises improvement projects have been delayed because they depend on the conclusion of negotiations over new reimbursement terms and conditions, health minister says.

Philip Dunne said ‘up to 627’ projects which were meant to get support from NHS England’s £1 billion premises fund were unable to progress until new Premises Cost Directions had been agreed.

The Premises Cost Directions set out what practice business and building-related costs can be reimbursed by NHS England and under what circumstances.

The news comes despite NHS England previously saying GP premises upgrades would not be affected by the delayed negotiations.

GP leaders said there were fundamental improvements needed to make GP premises fit for purpose and condemned the delaying of the fund being released from NHS England’s Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF).

Dunne said the cost directions are ‘currently being negotiated’ between the Department of Health, NHS England and the BMA’s GP Committee, and that ‘it is anticipated that the new directions will be agreed shortly’.

Richard Vautrey, GP Committee chair, said: “Having good quality practice premises is fundamental to the successful delivery of general practice and its a scandal that so many practices are still struggling to cope in inadequate buildings that would be better suited the 19th century, let alone the the 21st.

“Despite promises made about significant funding to support vital premises development very few practices have actually seen anything delivered and those involved in the process have been caught up in a bureaucratic quagmire.

“It's imperative that urgent steps are taken to resolve this impasse and deliver essential funding to practices.”

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