29/07/2004

GPs gain £108m 'improved pot' for surgery refurbishments

GPs across England will share a new £108 million 'improvement pot' to help refurbish and develop their surgeries, the government has announced today.

The cash boost is in addition to the £1.19 billion already being invested in primary care premises over the next two years.

Thousands of GP surgeries are being built or refurbished across England thanks to this massive investment, Health Minister John Hutton said.

He added: "It will help create a better environment in which millions of NHS patients can be treated. It will also make a big contribution towards ensuring our family doctors and their staff enjoy better working conditions."

The extra money is being allocated to designated lead primary care trusts (PCTs) who will work with local organisations to fund developments that have a real need and support from their community.

The BMA's General Practitioners Committee (GPC) welcomed the move as a "real help", saying that improved GP surgeries were key to modernising patient care.

However, the GPC's chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum, tinged his praise with concerns over the training budget for family doctors.

"We note that part of the money is available to create space in training practices for more new GP Registrars (GPs in training). This is welcome but contrasts oddly with the government's current cuts in the budgets supporting the actual training of future family doctors. Those cuts should be restored immediately so that tomorrow's patients have suitably trained GPs," he said.

The BMA would also be addressing the "potential restrictions" on some surgeries accessing funding with the health department.

(gmcg)

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