Published: 00:00, 20 May 2017
A Parliamentary candidate has blamed “NHS bureaucracy” for a financial crisis at a GP surgery.
Faversham Medical Practice, which is in desperate need of expansion to cope with the growing population, had its funding for building work frozen after refusing to pay a huge rise in charges.
Conservative Helen Whately lobbied health minister David Mowat before Parliament dissolved for the general election.
Doctors at the surgery were told by NHS Property Services that the service charges for the building in Bank Street were going up from £15,000 in 2014-15 to £80,000 in 2016-17.
NHS England then stopped funding – around £220,000 – for a major improvement project when the practice refused to sign the new lease.
Mrs Whately said: “Faversham Medical Practice needs this funding urgently.
“Both GP surgeries in Faversham are incredibly busy, and we need more local GPs. The practice is due to have an extra GP registrar in the autumn, but they can only do that if the works are done to the building.
“It’s so frustrating – their application has been approved but it’s on hold because of the bureaucracy at NHS England.
“I am pressing NHS England to work out a way around this – and have enlisted the Health Minister to help.
“I want to see Faversham Medical Practice receive the funding they need to provide more appointments and meet the growing demand for healthcare in Faversham.”
The money is needed for improvements to the building, including new rooms for an extra GP trainee and clinical staff.
Dozens of GP surgeries are facing a similar hike in charges, a rise which Faversham GP Gaurav Gupta says are unfair.
He said in April: “If the project cannot go ahead, we would be in a very difficult position as we do not think it would be possible to cope with the growing population.
"There are thousands of houses being built around the town, which means thousands of people who will need a GP and without an increase in our capacity, we don’t know how we will cope.
"NHS England agreed that this is a high priority project for them, so it beggars belief that they are now jeopardising it.”
Mr Mowat has committed to asking the Department of Health to investigate.