The Better Health for London report, produced by the London Health Commission, has suggested a £1bn investment to modernise GP premises and make them more accessible for Londoners.
The report states that the Department of Health and NHS England should launch a 5 year £1bn investment programme in GP premises so that all Londoners are able to access care in modern purpose built/designed facilities. In order to share in the fund GPs will have to increase the number of appointments they offer and improve their care for older patients. It has been suggested that the investment would enable practices to open 12 hours a day and GPs would have to adopt extended 8am-8pm opening hours to be provided across local practice ‘networks’ as part of the investment package.
Surgeries will also be expected to make much better use of technology to monitor patients’ health as a way of reducing their need to seek direct care from a GP.
Lord Ara Darzi, the reports leader, says that the current funding model has fundamentally failed and that a lack of investment in premises is disadvantaging patients and GPs. Commenting on the need for premises investment he said “I think London is much more challenging on the issues of the estate in primary care than the rest of the country, the dynamics in London are very different, the property prices in London are very different. So I think we’re in a much worse state in London than outside.”
The Report has received support from NHS England, with Dr Anne Rainsbury (Regional Director) stating “I think it’s a very important and very exciting recommendation. Clearly there are a lot in there which require NHS England to do things, and CCGs to do things, and we’re going to receive them and consider them. But yes we support the report, absolutely.” She added “We said we’d want to talk further with the Department of Health on how we build the recommendations, and implement them.”
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, stated that surgeries were “creaking under the strain [of] conducting 90% of all patient contacts for just 8.3% of the overall budget.” She said “We hope this pledge of new money is the beginning of ‘a new deal for general practice’ and will allow us to treat more patients in the community, keeping them out of hospitals unless absolutely necessary.” But she added that an extra 8,000 GPs are needed by 2020 to cope with rising patient demand.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GPs’ committee, welcomed the money as likely to tackle “the huge historic underinvestment in GP premises.” He added “This pledge of extra investment is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and if delivered properly could result in real change.”