CATEGORY: NEW GP SURGERY BUILDS AND EXTENSIONS
AUTHOR: BRYAN WOOTTEN
DATE: FEBRUARY 2024
One thing that I’ve learnt meeting with Practice managers over the past 18 years is just how busy you all are! In the midst of this busyness, the need for more space and a better quality environment for the delivery of healthcare often gets relegated to a ‘job for tomorrow’. I understand why this happens; Even when the number of clinical rooms available is clearly inadequate for the practice patient list, many practices struggle to prioritise this issue.
In truth, aside from the general busyness of each day, there are probably a number of reasons for this although I’m just going to focus on one of these in this post. For many practice managers in the situation described above, the prospect of navigating the NHS approval process is daunting and fraught with uncertainty.
For a start, many practice managers allow their inexperience of applying for additional premises funding (whether that is for a new surgery or a surgery extension) to dissuade them from engaging in this process. Even if they have some past experience of this, NHS organisational changes will inevitably mean changes to the hoops required to jump through for funding approval. As a result, in the minds of many practice managers there will be a level of uncertainty as to how to progress such matters.
I work with many GP Practices in the situation described above and I guess it would be great if I could provide assurances that there is a well-trodden path for said practice manager to follow; in truth I can think of 5 such situations just in the past 12 months where I’ve been supporting GP practices and each one has had different procedures to follow in the early stages of ‘in principle’ NHS approval for new surgery or extension proposals.
Despite this and having travelled this journey with many GP Practices over the past 18 years, I remain firmly of the view that it is worth pursuing funding for new GP Surgery builds and extensions.
Based on my experience of the past year or so, most ICBs are now asking GP Practices for less information than has previously been the case as they undertake their initial assessment of premises needs, so being ‘part of the process’ is generally less onerous at the initial stages.
The consistent message that I do receive from ICBs is that if GP Practices do want to be considered for additional premises/rent reimbursement funding, they do need to engage with whatever process the ICB have put in place. In effect, just by early stage engagement, a GP Practice is moving itself higher up the list for funding priority as too many Practices simply do not engage with the ICB in this way; effectively Practices who do not engage with the ICB are removing themselves from consideration for ICB funding support.
If you have any questions about this process or would just like to have an informal chat about how to move forward with engagement in this process, we’d be delighted to speak with you – please contact us in any way that suits you.
Wootten Dean is an established property consultancy led by Bryan Wootten who has over 15 years of experience as a valuer and general practice surveyor. Bryan is an RICS Registered Valuer who deals with a range of property types and has a special interest and focus on the NHS primary care environment.
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