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Charity watchdog launches probe into GP landlord

The Charities Commission has launched an investigation into the governance and finances of the Island Health Trust, the landlord of GP practice Island Health.

The Commission said that it had been ‘monitoring the charity’s governance and financial administration since February 2017 after concerns were raised regarding the use of the charity’s funds and potential private benefit to one or more trustees’.

It said its enquiries had ‘confirmed that a consultancy company, solely owned by a trustee of the charity, received significant benefits from the charity relating to a strategic development project’.

The Charities Commission said that it was unable to provide further details while the investigation is ongoing.

Pulse reported in a year ago that the practice’s landlord, registered charity The Island Health Trust, had pushed building service charges up to more than £60,000 a year.

The practice has since complained that the space it was forced to vacate has remained empty for nine months.

The health centre was built by the Island Health Trust in after a campaign by local residents, with £700,000 of grants from Tower Hamlets council and the London Docklands Development Corporation, as well as a £700,000 loan to the trust.

Island Health GP partner Dr Jo Richardson said: ‘We’re clearly very pleased that the Charity Commission has decided to investigate the extremely serious concerns surrounding Island Health Trust.

‘Once we have local leadership of IHT again then we can work together to ensure that all the building is back in use for the provision of healthcare to the local community, which is what IHT was created to support. ‘

A spokesperson for Island Health Trust said: ‘Island Health Trust is aware of the launch of a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission and the Trust is committed to working closely and transparently with them to ensure a swift conclusion. As the enquiry is ongoing it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.’