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Practice receives two visits from bailiffs after NHS England ignored six demands

Exclusive A practice has had two unannounced visits from bailiffs looking to collect unpaid business rates of around £34,000 after NHS England ignored six demands for the payments, Pulse can reveal.

Birmingham City Council tasked bailiffs with collecting £32,160.50 in unpaid business rates – plus more than £2,600 in ‘enforcement costs’ - for the Ley Hill Health Centre, Northfield, after sending repeated summons to NHS England.

The collectors turned up at the practice on Monday morning, even though the council had been sending invoices, payment requests and final warnings to NHS England, without the practice being made aware.

The unpaid debt dated back to September 2014, and may have come about following a mix-up around whether the CCG or NHS England were responsible for business rates after the practice switched CCGs.

Birmingham City Council told Pulse they ‘were not sure what had happened’ in this practice’s case, and had asked for the bailiff’s processes to be paused while they investigate.

Pulse understands the practice has been given the funding by NHS England, but are required to action the payment to the bailiffs because the local area team cannot make the payment to a third party in one working day.

Business partner at Ley Hill, Wendy Loveridge, told Pulse that this has taking a whole day of practice time out.

She said: ‘[The bailiff] was adamant he wasn’t going anywhere until he collected the £34,000 that Birmingham City Council were owed.

The confusion came about because NHS Birmingham South Central CCG – which has delegated responsibility for commissioning primary care – assumed responsibility for payments, including rent, but the responsibility for business rates appears to have stayed with NHS England.

Ms Loveridge told Pulse on Tuesday evening that the bailiff had informed them that NHS England's offices in Worcester had been sent six unanswered demands, between 3 March and 11 July.

She added that NHS England had informed the bailiffs that the practise would make the payment, which sparked the second visit.

She said: 'This has been two completely wasted days. They wouldn't back down and neither would the CCG, it was up to me to make the payment in the end.'

Paula Buckley, assistant director for customer services at the council, said: ‘We can confirm that our bailiffs visited a GP surgery today [Monday] for non-payment of business rates.

‘NHS England pays the business rates on behalf of GP surgeries and we are not sure what happened with the payment for this particular surgery. We have therefore asked the bailiffs to pause the process while we investigate.’

David Williams, lead director for commissioning at NHS England (West Midlands) said: ‘The commissioners were not aware of this outstanding payment. As soon as NHS England and Birmingham South Central CCG were made aware of the issue, it was immediately rectified and payment actioned.’

This is not the first time that practices have been threatened with repossessions because of NHS managers’ mistakes.

After NHS England were established, in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, practices in London received court summons threatening repossession and were threatened by bailiffs, after NHS England ‘failed to process payments’

And in Doncaster one in ten practices were sent court orders because of NHS England errors.

This story was updated at 10:30 on 3 August 2016

 

 

Readers' comments (12)

  • Blunders from Commissioners are inevitable with the constant deckchair shuffling, but Council have to share a certain amount of blame for blindly following procedures rather than picking up the phone and asking the local CCG to investigate.

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  • YOU SIMPLY COULD NOT MAKE IT UP !!

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  • Don't see what the problem is !!!
    Just accept that neither NHS England or CCG made any mistake .
    This is obviously the practice fault.
    ps sorrry doesnt quite cut it this time .
    Someone just needs sacked -it will only be then that those dimwit admistrators will actually understand that their action can have significant consequences on innocent parties

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  • Peter Swinyard

    I hope the practice receives financial support from the erring party for the time lost and the grief suffered by this administrative blunder.

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  • Its time to form a different relationship with the NHS now. We simply can't carry on taking this level of abuse. Chambers? There should be huge penalties for this sort of failure.

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  • Chambers it is.

    Let them own the premises, run the show, stock the shelves, set the targets, take the risks, hold the baby, write the policies, manage the PR, order the flu jabs, clean the toilets, plan for the unimaginable, organise for the unintelligible, answer the inexcusable, fix the impossible...

    The clinicians will simply come in, do their session and go home. If you want more, pay for more hours.

    That's the deal, take it or leave it.

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  • Exactly. That's the deal, take it or leave it.

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  • So what were the bailiffs proposing to take ?

    Did the council really send out the bailiffs knowing full well that if they took anything from the surgery it was coming from their own citizen's services ?

    Would they do the same to a hospital ?

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  • John Glasspool

    Cretins all round: except the practice, of course.

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  • It is like this. Funding to GPs in NI has been cut by 50 % [ from 11 % to 5.5 % ] in 11 years, while consults have gone up 50 %.
    This is a deliberate and sustained attack on GPs. We are being treated like dirt. Our leaders are either accepting gongs or stating there is no better time to work as a GP.
    It is chambers or similar.
    But our GPC leaders are sitting twiddling thumbs. Oh, don't get me wrong, they are always threatening dire consequences and demanding all manner of things; but actions are nil.
    It is better for GP land to collapse anyway. Who wants to work in this nightmare?
    But, there you are, there are still plenty of folks wanting to be GPs, so why should the DOH care, when there are so many mugs out there?

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