Lord Darzi of the London Health Commission recommended an investment of £1 billion into GP premises in London in a recent report.
We reported back in July on the worrying lack of investment in GP premises – only 13% of premises funding applications were approved by NHS England (NHSE) in 2013 with a spend of just £14 million. Meanwhile 40% of GP practices reported that their premises are currently inadequate for their needs.
The NHSE local area team has said it supports the Darzi recommendations and will take them into discussions with the Department of Health.
This is potentially great news for London based practices – although of course it remains to be seen whether the funding is forthcoming and whether it can be done quickly enough to prevent more practice closures.
The next question will be whether this recommendation can be replicated for regional practices. Darzi suggested that the challenges facing the primary care estate in London are greater than elsewhere, in part due to the property prices. However, it seems unlikely that regional GPs struggling in their own run down premises are feeling much sympathy for their London counterparts.
The continued shift of work into primary care alongside the closure of inadequate practice premises cannot be sustainable. The call for investment from Lord Darzi is welcomed and we look forward to seeing it replicated across the country.