BMA survey finds half of GP practice buildings not fit for purpose

Half of GP practice buildings are not considered to be fit for purpose, a survey has found.

About 50% of doctors and practice managers do not think their surgeries are suitable for present needs, according to the British Medical Association (BMA) poll.

Meanwhile, almost eight out of 10 (78%) said their practice would not be able to handle expected future demands, such as population growth.

The BMA is urging the Government to invest in GP premises and “bring facilities up to 21st-century standards”.

Without more space, patients would continue to face long waits for appointments, BMA GP committee chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned.

“GPs have been telling us for years that their practice buildings are not up to scratch and now we have evidence showing just how serious the situation is,” he said.

“Despite their best efforts, GPs and their teams are ultimately limited by space and cannot meet the growing needs of their patients without an urgent increase in capacity.”

A forthcoming NHS England review into GP practice premises would hopefully offer some solutions to the issues “persistently raised” by doctors, Dr Vautrey said.

“More broadly, the government must use next month’s spending review to urgently invest in practice premises – as well as wider NHS infrastructure – to bring facilities up to 21st-century standards and ensure that GPs and their colleagues throughout the health service can guarantee the best care now and in the future,” he added.

Dr Roberta King, a partner at the Panton Practice in Bournemouth, said the number of patients has more than doubled since she started work in 1991, from 7,000 people to around 15,000.

“We have been looking for a new site to rebuild for the past ten years but it’s just been impossible,” she said.

“Even back then we realised that we didn’t have enough space and we have continued to grow.

“I think it does impact patient care and even if we were to have another three more doctors to care for patients and bring down our waiting times, we would have nowhere to put them.”

She added: “All this talk in the long-term plan of social prescribing and a recruitment drive for more NHS staff, but I have no idea where I am going to put them – that is just not happening in my practice.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We want patients to receive world-class care in world-class facilities, which is why the Government announced £3.9 billion of capital investment in the NHS, to help transform and modernise buildings and improve patient care in their communities.

“GPs are the bedrock of the NHS, and the Long Term Plan makes clear our commitment to the future of general practice, with primary and community care set to receive £4.5 billion more in real terms a year by 2023/24.”

A total of 1,011 GPs and practice managers in England responded to the BMA survey.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anthony Devlin / PA Wire.