One in five investment projects in GP facilities designed to improve patient care could collapse, warns new BMA survey
One in five investment projects designed to upgrade and expand GP facilities to improve patient care could collapse because the NHS is failing to commit funding to keep the new buildings maintained, warns a new BMA survey of just over 200 GP practices. The poll also found that three quarters of the bids to the Primary Care Investment Fund had been delayed with many GPs blaming a lack of leadership and expertise in NHS England for the stalled programme.
The government announced last year that it was allocating £250 million annually to invest in GP facilities1 following a BMA campaign that highlighted how cramped and inadequate GP buildings were damaging patient care2.
The BMA survey received a response from 207 practices, around twenty percent of the 1,000 practices who have had their bids approved “in principle” by the Primary Care Transformation Fund. The key findings were:
- Of those with supported bids, 54 percent say they had experienced delays of over 6 months.
- For all those that received initial approval ‘refusal to meet recurrent costs by NHS England or the local Clinical Commissioning Group’ (CCG) is cited as a major obstacle by a quarter (22 percent) of respondents.
- Other reasons for delays included a ‘lack of leadership or clear process’ (24 percent) and ‘lack of expertise within the local NHS England team’ (32 percent).
- Of those with approved bids, 83 percent believe that the project will need to be extended beyond March 2016. Around one in five (22 percent) of those facing delays have now been told that their local NHS Area Teams might withdraw funding for their project.
- A third (37 percent) of bids accepted were to build an extension to a GP building, while a further third (31 percent) were to improve an existing building. 18 percent were to build new facilities.
Dr Brian Balmer, BMA GP committee lead on premises, said:
“These results paint a depressing picture of a faltering programme of investment in GP practices which has so far failed to deliver the improvements promised by the government. Many GPs are being held back from delivering enough appointments and services to their patients because they are having to use inadequate and cramped buildings. Last year a BMA poll of 4000 GP practices found that four out of ten practices were struggling to provide even basic care due to poor facilities while seven out of ten felt they had no scope to expand the services they offered2.
“It is deeply worrying that half of GP practices who have had bids approved are experiencing delays and that a range of obstacles are to blame, from a lack of expertise in NHS England to a general deficit of leadership.
“Most worrying is that one in five are being refused support from NHS England and CCGs for the recurring costs of maintaining new facilities. This could mean that these projects cannot be completed and the bids could simply collapse. That would leave patients with no hope of getting the improved care they deserve. Already some bids have been told by local Area teams that they may not be able to support their projects financially.
“The government announced the extra investment in GP facilities with a lot of fanfare, but on the ground many GPs are beginning to doubt these supposed improvements will ever be delivered. Ministers have to get a grip on the project and deliver what they have promised, otherwise patient care will continue to suffer.”
- Information about the Primary Care Transformation Fund and the BMA’s reaction to it can be found here.
- The BMA’s survey of more than 4,000 GP practices about the impact of poor GP facilities on patient care can be found here.
Survey findings page:
Press release and coverage: