GPs say patient care is hindered by outdated practice buildings

GP and patient Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption More than half of GPs say they have to share consulting rooms or 'hot desk'

GPs say patient care is being hindered by cramped and inadequate practice buildings, according to BMA Scotland.

A lack of investment means most practices feel they can't provide enough appointments for patients.

A survey of 441 practices in Scotland found more than half have seen no investment in the last 10 years.

The Scottish government has said its programme of investment in primary health care facilities is one of the largest of its kind.

But BMA Scotland's Dr Alan McDevitt said: "We need investment that enables GPs to provide 21st century healthcare in 21st century buildings."

'Too small'

The key findings from the BMA survey indicate:

  • Almost four in 10 practices feel their current practices are not adequate to deliver services to patients
  • Six out of 10 feel their facilities are too small to deliver extra or additional services to patients
  • More than half of GPs have to share consulting rooms or 'hot desk' , meaning 61% fewer appointments available
  • More than half (53%) have seen no investment or refurbishment in the last 10 years
  • Six out of 10 say their practice is not big enough to provide vital training and education programmes for GPs and their staff.

Dr McDevitt added: "Not only is general practice bursting at the seams, but the buildings where we provide care for our patients are crumbling.

"A number of health centres have been rebuilt in recent years, but the vast majority of GPs and their staff are struggling by in buildings that are not fit for purpose.

"New ways of getting funding for GP premises are now urgently required.

"In order to achieve the government's intention to shift care out of hospitals and into local communities, they need to build the capacity to enable general practice to provide this care."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish government is investing £250m in community-based health facilities across Scotland through the hub programme, which represents one of the largest ever investments of its kind in the NHS estate.

"During 2013, over £65m worth of new health and medical centres were completed and opened, including facilities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen."

She added: "We will continue to work with a range of stakeholders, including the BMA, to ensure primary care services continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the people of Scotland."

Infection control

Perthshire GP Dr Claire Hutton said her building has consistently failed infection control inspections because of a lack of investment.

She said: "The building is outdated and in need of repair and renovation.

"There is limited practice space and we are unable to expand as there is no more room.

"Our practice list is growing and this has placed increased pressure on rooms and staff.

"Where we have flagged up the need for improvement measures on grounds of safety, for example for reception staff, we have been told there is no money available."

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