NHS England has unveiled funding of £1 billion over the next four years to improve GP premises.

Doctors across the country are being invited to submit bids and will need to set out how upgrading their practices will give them “the capacity to do more; provide value for money; improvements in access and services for the frail and elderly”. It is hoped the scheme will accelerate better use of technology and in the short term, “address immediate capacity and access issues, as well as lay the foundations for more integrated care to be delivered in community settings”.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that “any version of a better NHS over the next five years will need stronger GP services, resourced to offer a wider range of services. That’s why kick-starting an upgrade in primary care infrastructure is no longer a nice-to-have but is mission critical”.

Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said it is encouraging “that there is finally central recognition of the huge historic underinvestment in GP premises”. A recent BMA survey found that seven out of ten GP practices were too cramped and inadequate to expand the services they provide, while four out of ten said their facilities were preventing them from providing even basic services.

“This pledge of extra investment is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and if delivered properly could result in real change”, he added.

Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said “our patients deserve to see their GP in modern surroundings with state-of-the-art equipment, but this must go hand in hand with funding for frontline patient care – and proactive initiatives to boost GP numbers”.