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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Many GP surgeries 'poor quality'
GP generic
Many doctors have to endure poor facilities
Hundreds of GP surgeries in England do not meet minimum standards for health provision, government figures show.

Health Minister John Hutton has revealed that 700 practices fail the current standards.

These cover issues such as ease of access, equipment in treatment rooms and the comfort of waiting areas.

Mr Hutton was responding to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow.

Sub-standard GP surgeries
North East London: 160
North Central London: 149
Essex: 91
South East London: 55
North West London: 31
More than half (395) the sub-standard practices were in London. Essex was also a blackspot.

Mr Hutton said the figures, for 2002-03, represented only 6%-7% of all primary care premises in England.

In his written response, he said: "The government is supporting one of the largest and most sustained programmes of modernisation of primary care premises in the history of the National Health Service and this is likely to have a significant impact on these numbers."

However, Mr Burstow said it was shocking that so many GPs were having to work in unacceptable conditions.

He said: "The government's obsession with hospitals has meant that local GP surgeries have lost out.

"It is essential that family doctors are supported with the right facilities to do the job or the severe shortages of GPs in this country will only get worse.

"There should be more focus on local health services, to tackle illnesses early and keep people out of hospital."

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association said: "While we welcome the additional investment in GP premises, compared to the investment that has taken place in secondary care, this is a drop in the ocean.

"The fact that many premises do not meet the minimum standards is evidence that further investment is needed.

"We would urge the government to redouble its efforts to ensure that premises funding is adequate."

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