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Time for a check-up


Could do better.

That was the verdict from the Royal College of GPs this week, on NHS England’s progress to improve surgery buildings.

In its first annual check on the GP Forward View’s (GPFV) targets, the college concludes that premises remain a key concern for doctors.

It welcomes the fact that almost 200 projects to improve GP buildings were completed under the GPFV’s Estates and Technology Transformation Fund in 2016/17 (our scheme with Long Lane in Leicestershire is another recent example) and that hundreds more are approved subject to due diligence, but says it has: “evidence of substantial difficulty receiving capital support” and warns of “moving goalposts” reported by some GPs making applications to the fund. It also laments “uncertainty” caused by the wait for changes to GP premises cost regulations – read this blog from our senior development manager, Simon, on how these could make a difference for GPs trying to get spades in the ground.

But perhaps one of the most fascinating statements in RCGP’s report is that so many of its members cite premises costs as the reason why they don’t think it’s financially sustainable to run a GP surgery at the moment. And therein lies the rub: even with all of the other challenges GPs are facing – from recruitment and retention to expanding access to services, having the right space in which to deliver the GPFV’s vision of a bigger workforce, evening and weekend appointments and more care closer to home is a pressing concern. It’s clear that demand for capital funding to improve surgery premises far, far outstrips the ETTF’s supply. So if GPs are going to create the spaces they need for the services they want to provide, they either need a much bigger capital pot – or a much broader range of solutions.

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Claire Rick, Head of Public Affairs