Autumn Statement: investment in healthcare property essential for NHS reform

The British Property Federation has welcomed the announcement of £1 billion to be invested over four years in GP services.

The BPF last month urged the Secretary of State to prioritise delivery of a new generation of modern, fit-for-purpose primary care facilities, arguing this could not only improve patient care but also produce considerable efficiency savings for the NHS and wider economic benefits for the country as a whole.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said:

“There is now consensus between patients groups and medical professionals that increasing the capability and capacity of out-of-hospital care is vital in order to sustain our NHS to be free at the point of need.”

“Private sector investment can help this transformation. However, we do need to see further movement of resources from the secondary care system into primary and community care to enable NHS England to have the capability to increase the amount that it spends on new GP facilities.”

Key facts:

  • Approximately 4,000 of the 7,600 GP surgeries in England & Wales are considered by medical professionals to be unfit for purpose.
  • Replacing these with larger, modern surgeries offering a broader range of services requires the development of approximately 1,300 new buildings, at a capital cost of about £5bn (which can be borne by the private sector) and additional annual costs to the NHS of £150m a year.
  • This revolution in the provision of primary care would, however, more than pay for itself due to the efficiency savings of over £270m that would accrue from reducing the non-urgent use of A&E departments, removing the pressure on walk-in centres, and increasing GP care for the elderly. It would also generate wider economic benefits through an increase in development activity.
  • Crucially, it would unlock a range of benefits to patients including better clinical outcomes, a greater range of services provided within the community, and increased co-location of services, allowing primary care to take the lead in improving public health.

The announcement follows research this week that found the NHS could save £1.9bn over the next five years, as well as reduce pressure on A&E, lower the number of ambulance call-outs and help keep people out of hospital by simply investing a modest £72m a year into GP services.

The study from management consultants Deloitte, commissioned by the Royal College of GPs, says that increasing the GP budget would save £5 for every £1 put in. Increasing spending on general practice across the UK by £72m each year – which would fund more GPs and practice nurses – could help save up to £375m each financial year, rising to annual savings of up to £708m by the end of 2019-20.

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