Improving buildings has to be at the heart of primary care reform if we want more patients to visit their GPs, says one reader
In their comment piece (“Keep the primary care estate at the centre of reform”), Ben Gowland and Emma Carr highlighted the persistent neglect of property development in the NHS, as they suggested that improvement of estates continues to be treated as an ‘afterthought’ to premises development.
The implementation of the £50m access fund last week has once again detracted attention from the necessity of primary care premises development. Although the groundbreaking funding’s commitment to improving the accessibility of GP consultations is something to celebrate, the prospect of improving the facilities from which GPs operate seems to have been side-stepped once again.
‘To ensure the local practice is the first port of call for health enquiries, it is essential that primary care property remains at the heart of reform’
The phase one report on improving general practice, published by NHS England last month, insisted that the service has the capacity to release a number of assets and dispose of a number of estates to further the development of integrated primary care centres across the country. This intelligent expansion and advancement of frontline services could remove surplus secondary care admissions and improve the quality of care throughout the health service.
In Ben and Emma’s article they expressed the need for a clear and open estates strategy from NHS England, which can be easily translated down and coordinated at a local level. This sentiment should be at the forefront of primary care reform as more funding is directed towards primary practice.
The move to improve forms of communication such as Skype and telephone consultations is an encouraging one towards building relationships between patients and GPs. However, in order to effect a fundamental change in patient behaviour and ensure the local practice is the first port of call for their health enquiries, it is essential that primary care property remains at the heart of reform.
Andrew Darke, managing director of property, Assura Group