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Thursday 27th October 2016

Face LIFT failure?

5th July 2006

MPs have been left unsure as to whether a £1bn pound scheme to upgrade GP surgeries has proved good value for money.

The Local Improvement Finance Trusts (LIFT) were set up in 2000 to upgrade ageing premises in England through a public-private scheme. The government said 78 new GP surgeries and health centres have been opened under the programme with more opening at the rate of one a week.

Public Accounts committee chairman Edward Leigh says it is "essential" to find ways to evaluate the success of LIFT. The Department of Health says it is looking at ways to improve evaluation. The report also concluded that the high cost of LIFT caused cuts in spending on other primary care services and premises.

Primary care premises are historically owned in a variety ways - private ownership by GPs, private sector leases and central NHS provision, but many were outdated, provided poor access and were poorly maintained.

LIFT properties are owned by the companies and their income is earned via rent payments. Tenants include Primary Care Trusts, GPs, pharmacists and local authorities.

LIFT was given funding of £195m and was expected to attract £1bn of investment by 2010. The first schemes were worth £711m, with an average LIFT building costing about £5m. Around 90% of the capital for developing LIFT properties is provided through debt.

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