Premises scheme gives GPs power over poor landlords
GPs will have more power over their landlords if they move to a surgery built through the NHS Lift premises improvement scheme.
New guidance for the Government initiative gives GP tenants the right to cut their rent if parts of their building are not satisfactory and affect the delivery of care.
Repeated poor performance by the landlord will also allow GPs to force them to replace service providers, such as utility companies.
However, rents for GPs in an NHS Lift building will be higher.
The guidance on NHS Lift leases, drawn up by the GPC and Partnerships for Health, the public-private company co-ordinating the scheme, says landlords need to be incentivised to provide better service.
'The amount GPs will actually pay in any month depends on how well the landlord manages the premises,' the guide states.
More than 120 primary care organisations are involved in the 42 NHS Lift pilots set up so far.
The public-private partnership scheme, which began in 2001, is the Government's prime mechanism for achieving its target of updating or replacing 3,000 GP premises by December 2004.
Dr Grant Kelly, chair of
the GPC's practice premises sub-committee, said the guidance meant GPs would get a 'really good deal' from NHS Lift.
'Landlords will not be just idle, waiting to collect the rent, but there as a partner to make sure it's a viable NHS property, he said. 'They must be active not passive.'
Dr Kelly said the increase in rent would not be important as long as lease payments continued to be fully reimbursed by PCOs.
He added: 'If it ever ceases, the liability will remain with the tenant to pay and the payment due is likely to be greater than for other GP premises of a comparable size.'
The guidance adds that
singlehanded GPs can agree for their PCO take over the lease in certain circumstances, for example if they want to retire.
GPs will also be able to suspend paying rent and to terminate the lease if uninsured risks, such as terrorist attacks, occur and render the premises unusable.