In the remuneration system for GPs there have been provisions for more than 30 years for the state to make contributions towards the capital cost of GP surgeries. The two main schemes are known as the Cost Rent Scheme, where GPs receive what amounts to an interest-free loan to provide premises, and the Improvement Grant Scheme, where grants of between a third and two-thirds of the cost of improving surgeries are made available. Incidentally, both schemes were introduced by a progressive Labour minister of health: Kenneth Robinson. Over the past few years, under arrangements to encourage the development of GP surgeries in parts of London, grants of up to 90 per cent have been made available, usually to non-fund-holding GPs.
Money for such schemes has been short recently. Therefore we should welcome the ability of those fund-holders who make savings to redirect them to improving the premises and services that are provided for their patients, thus releasing limited resources for other capital developments.
All of these schemes have helped to develop an outstanding range of GP surgeries for fundholders, non-fund-holders and patients in many parts of the country. We should welcome this rather than resort to pointscoring.
National Association of Fundholding Practices
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