No one disputes that substantial investment in the primary care estate is fundamental to the delivery of world-class patient care and a sustainable NHS. The coronavirus pandemic has brought into even sharper focus the need for that investment in the delivery of modernised, fit for purpose, tech enabled premises capable of also offering a range of digital services such as video consultations and remote monitoring.
Modern GP surgery premises have a major role to play in reducing the burden on the NHS of more expensive secondary healthcare provision from our often over stretched hospitals.
Even before Covid-19, there were a whole host of compelling drivers for accelerating the pace of modernisation in our front line healthcare infrastructure:
- Population growth
- Increased life expectancy and associated long term health conditions requiring treatment
- The ‘over 85’s’ are now the fastest growing age group with the greatest demand for NHS consultations
Inadequate existing premises:
- Huge numbers of small, out of date surgery premises
- 40% of GP’s say their premises are not fit for purpose
- Around 50% of GP practices have seen no investment in their premises in the last decade
- 80% of GP’s say their premises will not be fit to cope with future growth
- Expansion of GP practice teams with thousands more primary healthcare professionals and co-location of clinical and well-being services all requiring more space
- The desire to improve access to more patient services in primary care through in-person or tech enabled delivery
- ‘Levelling up’ in relation to regional, economic and social inequalities in healthcare outcomes
- Government funding (through the NHS) of the annual rents paid for premises by GP practices and typical lease terms of over 20 years on new developments make for secure long term income
With all these drivers and influences in play, it is hardly surprising that the appetite amongst specialist healthcare developers and investors to fund new GP surgery buildings has never been greater.
Hopefully this, combined with our heightened desire to protect and support the NHS brought about by the pandemic will help to bring forward a new period of transformation of the primary care estate that everyone agrees is so badly needed and to ensure it is fit for the future.
Written by Simon Sherwood - Real Estate Healthcare specialist