Delivering a General Practice Estate Fit for Purpose

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Delivering a General Practice Estate Fit for Purpose

General practice serves as the front door to the National Health Service (NHS), but its current estate is far from welcoming. A new Institute for Government (IfG) paper highlights the urgent need for transformation. GPs and the broader workforce operate in buildings that are cramped, outdated, and ill-suited for modern healthcare. With a quarter of GP premises predating the NHS itself, the situation demands attention.

Delivering A General Practice Estate Fit For Purpose

The Challenge

The Conservative Party has committed to constructing 100 new GP surgeries and refurbishing 150 more. However, this falls short of the monumental challenge at hand. The state and size of the NHS’s general practice estate undermine the delivery of high-quality care. Without substantial improvements, the NHS risks missing its Long-Term Workforce Plan target of increasing GP trainees by 50% by 2031/32.

Key Findings

The IfG report reveals critical insights:

  1. Historic Premises: As of 2022, 22% of the 8,911 general practice premises were built before the NHS’s establishment in 1948.
  2. Unfit for Purpose: GPs report that 2,000 premises (22.4% of the total) are not fit for purpose.
  3. Space Constraints: An alarming 88% of surveyed GPs lack sufficient consulting rooms.

Recommendations for Change

The report proposes practical steps to modernise and expand the general practice estate:

  1. Retaining GP Partners: Address the exodus of GP partners by supporting their necessary investments in the estate.
  2. Empowering Integrated Care Boards: Allocate capital spending effectively across general practice, primary care, and community care.
  3. Flexible Rules: Relax regulations to allow GPs to rent out unused space within their premises to other NHS services.
  4. Attracting Private Investment: Provide certainty to private investors, encouraging greater sector investment.

Expert Insights

Stuart Hoddinott, IfG senior researcher and report author, emphasises the urgency: “GPs are often working in spaces that are old, cramped, and inappropriate for the type of care they are supposed to deliver. The current GP estate lets down both the staff who work in it and the patients who rely on the service.”

Jonathan Murphy, CEO of Assura, echoes the sentiment: “Our health system must shift toward a preventative model with community-based care. However outdated buildings hinder progress. Developers like Assura stand ready to invest in state-of-the-art GP practices, yet bureaucratic barriers persist.”

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