The British Property Federation (BPF) has urged political parties to commit to providing a healthcare estate fit for the twenty first century, amid concerns about underinvestment in UK healthcare infrastructure.
The BPF was responding to Labour party leader Ed Miliband’s announcement of a 10-year plan for the NHS, including a pledge to deliver more doctors and nurses. The property body welcomed the announcement, but stressed the importance of also providing suitable buildings.
It said approximately 4,000 of the 7,962 GP surgeries in England and Wales are considered by medical professionals to be unfit for purpose. Replacing these with larger, modern surgeries offering a broader range of services, including diagnostics and social care, would provide patient benefits and generate efficiency savings from other parts of the NHS. The BPF estimates around 1,300 new primary care buildings would be needed.
The BPF said the property industry was ready to support modernisation of UK healthcare infrastructure, with UK institutions such as pension funds having earmarked £3 billion to invest in the sector. However, the recent restructuring of the NHS has meant that virtually no new surgeries have been commissioned in recent years.
The BPF also said an effort to encourage the development of retirement and care homes would be vital if the NHS is to meet the challenges posed by the growing number of elderly patients. A recent report by property consultant Knight Frank showed that only 2.8% of all homes under construction in the UK are retirement homes, despite the fact that over 65s are expected to make up almost 23% of the population in the next 20 years.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Better quality primary and elderly care facilities will hugely reduce the burden on hospitals and A&E departments which, as we are all aware, are suffering from over-crowding and lack of resources”.