General practitioner

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GPs demand investment in premises

GPs say there must be investment in premises if they are to absorb work being transferred from hospitals into primary care.

The BMA GPs committee yesterday called on all four UK health departments to work with family doctors to come up with a vision for practices now and in the future.

GP negotiator Peter Holden said Northern Ireland was leading the way with a plan to invest £30m.

Dr Holden said many GP premises needed relatively modest levels of investment to meet patients’ reasonable expectations, but that a lot of surgeries were in need of modernisation even without the flow of new work into primary care.

He added that the way premises were funded needed to be rethought.

New finance era

Dr Holden said: ‘We are in a new era of financing premises. It used to be that banks would give doctors evergreen, low-interest loans, but that no longer is the case.’

The money to upgrade premises should not come from the GP contract global sum, he said, because the funding should reflect the shift of care from hospitals.

Dr Holden said one option would be for governments to offer low-interest loans for GPs who wished to own their premises, but there should be a separate technical group to work with health departments to update the premises cost directions covering GP ownership and lease reimbursement.